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Why Eat Asparagus?
High in vitamins B6 and C, plus fiber, folate and glutathione, an anti-carcinogen and antioxidant, asparagus is an excellent nutritional choice. It comes in three colors: white, green or purple, although the green variety is the most common. Long considered a luxury vegetable, often with a luxury price tag, fresh American-grown asparagus appears in stores in late February. But asparagus is at its best and is usually cheapest in April and May. And sure, while there¡¯s frozen and canned asparagus, which can be enjoyed year round, nothing beats the delicate flavor of fresh asparagus.
Choosing and Storing Asparagus
Asparagus spears can be thick or thin. Some people prefer one kind over another but size is not necessarily an indicator of quality. Thicker spears may have tougher, woodier ends, but these are broken off before cooking anyway. The key is to select straight, firm, uniformly sized spears with closed tips. Since asparagus deteriorates rapidly, it¡¯s important to select bundles that are refrigerated or on ice. For the same reason, asparagus should be used within two or three days of purchase, preferably sooner. If you do need to keep it for a day or two, the best way is to place the spears upright in a bowl (or even a small vase) of cold water. Alternatively, you can wrap the ends of the spears in a damp paper towel and refrigerate them.
What to Do With Asparagus
To prepare asparagus, you will need to rinse the spears and break off the tough ends. After that, how you cook asparagus is up to you.
Purists enjoy their asparagus with nothing more than a drizzle of good-quality olive oil, but you can enjoy asparagus in many different dishes: in soups, salads, stir-fries, risottos, scrambled eggs, pasta, and many more dishes besides. You can find some great low fat recipe ideas on the next page.