Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
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Asparagus Identification: Asparagus is a perennial plant with short, horizontal rootstock having long, thick roots and sending up the young shoots that we eat as vegetables. Asparagus
Stems – Up to 6 feet tall, herbaceous, erect, much branched, glabrous, from rhizomes. Branches thin and drooping.
Leaves – Fernlike (actually branches functioning as leaves). They appear somewhat like pine needles.
Flowers – Seldom noticed; whitish-green; stamens 6; anthers orange; appear from May – June.
Family: Liliaceae (Lily Family)
Other Names: Asperge, Garden Asparagus, Sparrowgrass,
Tien Men Tong, and Shatavari.
Habitat: Pastures, fencerows, old cultivated fields, disturbed sites, open woods, roadsides, railroads. Escaped from cultivation. Native to Europe.
Parts Used: Young shoots.
Harvest: Early spring. To find the new shoots, look for last year’s dead stalks. Cut young shoots off with a sharp knife, just below the surface of the soil. They should be picked when they are several inches long, and the stalk is still tender.

Nutrients (Per 100 grams)
Calories – 20
Potassium – 183 mg
Protein – 2.2 grams
Vitamin A – 900 IU
Fat – 0.2 grams
Thiamin – 0.16 mg
Calcium – 21 mg
Riboflavin – 0.18 mg
Phosphorus – 50 mg
Niacin – 1.4 mg
Iron – 0.6 mg
Vitamin C – 26 mg
Sodium – 1 mg

Uses: Steam or boil for 10 to 15 minutes. The young shoots are eaten raw or cooked in salads and omelets; the root & shoots are added to soups; the seeds can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute.

Baked Asparagus
1 lb asparagus
Olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
1 lemon
Toasted sesame seeds, if desired
1. Break off ends of asparagus stalks.
2. Put in baking pan or dish.
3. Drizzle olive oil over asparagus.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste.
5. Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice.
6. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top of asparagus, if desired.
7. Bake at 375 degrees for about 12 minutes or until fork tender.
8. Serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Asparagus also has medicinal properties.

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