Asparagus originated in the Eastern Mediterranean and was a favourite of the Greeks and Romans who used it as a medicine. Varieties of asparagus grow wild in parts of Europe, Turkey, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, however, New Zealanders prefer the traditional green asparagus.
Purple asparagus is becoming more available in New Zealand with white asparagus on its heels. Did you know, white asparagus remains white because it is grown covered in soil?
Asparagus is a good source of folate, a source of dietary fibre, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin C and vitamin K, and contains a dietary significant amount of potassium. Asparagus contains a range of phytonutrients, particularly from the phenolic and carotenoid groups.
Keep asparagus refrigerated with butt ends either wrapped in wet paper towels or stood up in a jar with water in the bottom. Alternatively, wash then refrigerate in plastic bags.
Snap or slice off the tough ends before cooking (these can be used to flavour soups or stocks). Blanch asparagus for 2-3 minutes so they remain tender and slightly crisp.
Lightly steam, stir fry, microwave, boil, bake or barbecue asparagus. Serve as a side dish or add to your favourite salads.