Most vegetables come from a family where they share similar characteristics. One family you may not have heard of before is the lily family, which includes onions, garlic, leeks, turnips — and asparagus. Like the other members of its family, asparagus is grown mostly below the ground.
You are probably familiar with the green variety of asparagus that comes in spears, but have you experienced white or purple asparagus?
White asparagus is harvested when it is very young, while the spear is still underground, and it can make a wonderful contrast when served with the green variety. Just remember, because it is picked while it is young the outer layer needs to be removed before cooking.
Purple asparagus is a newer variety, and actually loses its colour when it is heated, turning a vibrant green.
One of the great things about asparagus is that it is versatile. It can be used in a variety of recipes or enjoyed simply blanched, steamed, or grilled. And because it only takes a few minutes to cook, asparagus is the perfect last-minute addition to a meal.
You can also find asparagus in the canned vegetable aisle of your local supermarket, which is great in sandwiches, quiches or omelettes.
Nutritionally, asparagus is a great source of vitamin C and also provides dietary fibre, which is ideal for bowel health.
Asparagus is currently in season, and best bought in Australia and New Zealand from September through to December. Choose spears that have a vibrant colour with stiff stems. Try not to purchase limp and dry asparagus.
Often the thicker the stem, the better the quality of the asparagus. Unblemished spears will last for around two or three days in the fridge.
This information is provided by the Sanitarium Nutrition Service.
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