Asparagus - The Royal Vegetable


Recipes for cooking Asparagus exist even in the oldest surviving book of recipes, De re coquinaria /On the Subject of Cooking/, written around the 1-3 century AD by a Roman gourmet and lover of refined luxury Apicius. Asparagus is considered to be one of the delicacies of the vegetable world with its distinct and intense savory flavor. No wonder, in Germany, it is known as "Königliches Gemüse" /Royal Vegetable/.

Taste

Freshly harvested Asparagus has juicy and sweet flavor, similar to that of peas. White asparagus, which is grown covered in soil, is much more tender and has a little sweeter taste than green asparagus.

Food

Only young asparagus shoots are commonly eaten: once the buds start to open, the shoots quickly turn woody and become strongly flavoured. The shoots are prepared and served in a number of ways around the world, typically as an appetizer or vegetable side dish. In Asian-style cooking, asparagus is often stir-fried with chicken, shrimp or beef and also wrapped in bacon. Asparagus may also be quickly grilled over charcoal or hardwood embers. It is also used as an ingredient in some stews and soups. In the French style, it is often boiled or steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, melted butter or olive oil and Parmesan. In recent years, asparagus has regained its popularity eaten raw as a component of a salad.

Asparagus can also be pickled and stored for several years. Fresh asparagus are available now through import all year round, but the the best season is from April to July.

Nutrition

Asparagus is low in calories and is very low in sodium. It is a good source of Vitamin B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc, and a very good source of fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese, etc. The amino acid asparagine gets its name from asparagus, the asparagus plant being rich in this compound.

Green asparagus is eaten worldwide, though the availability of imports throughout the year has made it less of a delicacy than it once was. However, in the UK, due to the short growing season and demand for local produce, asparagus season is a highlight of the food calendar. In continental northern Europe, there is also a strong seasonal following for local white asparagus, nicknamed "white gold". Many German cities hold festivals celebrating its harvest. Schwetzingen claims to be the "Asparagus Capital of the World" and holds an annual Spargelfest /asparagus festival/ in which an Asparagus Queen is crowned.

Source: Wikipedia