It was the favorite vegetable of Julius Caesar, King Louis the XIV, and Thomas Jefferson. But the history of asparagus begins long before that.
The name comes from a Greek word meaning stalk or shoot. The Romans borrowed asparagus from the Greeks and cultivated it in every land they visited.
Asparagus is a member of the lily family and is related to onions, leeks, and garlic. It contains more cancer-fighting glutathione than any other food. It is packed with folic acid, which helps to prevent birth defects and heart disease, and it’s a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamins A, D, B6, and thiamin. And it is rich in rutin, which helps strengthen blood vessels.
Health-conscious dieters will be pleased to know that asparagus contains no fat and no cholesterol. It’s low in sodium, and contains only 20 calories per serving.
Under ideal conditions, it can grow up to 10 inches in a day and reach up to 12 feet in height.
The best asparagus has firm, fresh stalks with tightly closed tips. Because its folate is destroyed by exposure to air, heat, or light, it is best to store it in the back of the refrigerator or in a produce drawer.
Microwaving destroys fewer of its nutrients than boiling or steaming. Cook it upright in a tall container with a few inches of water in the pot. Simmer 5 to 7 minutes with the tips out of the water.
Orange-Soy asparagus sauce
Combine 1 tablespoon each of soy sauce and fresh orange juice with 1/2 teaspoon grated orange rind, grated ginger, and dark sesame oil. Stir in 2 shallots or 1 small onion, minced. Drizzle over cooked asparagus and toss to coat.
Shrimp and asparagus
Perfect for low carb diets, shrimp has no carbs and asparagus has 5 carbs per cup. Lemon juice has 5 carbs per 1/4 cup.
Prepare this lemon sauce for the dish and set aside.
Combine in small bowl:
2/3 cup chicken stock
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 cup lemon juice
Add a tablespoon of sugar, if you desire.
Stir fry shrimp in olive oil, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1 teaspoon ginger until shrimp is pink. Remove. Using the same pan, add asparagus, cooking until bright and tender-crisp.
Bring asparagus and shrimp together in same pan. Pour lemon sauce mixture over shrimp and asparagus. Simmer for a minute to thicken sauce. Serve.
If carbs are not an issue, add rice or noodles.