Behold, non-wimpy asparagus!
Normally I don’t consider asparagus to be one of the most exciting vegetables, but it always surprises me every time I make it. I enjoy it way more than I think I do. A simple, light sauté leaves it tender, but still crisp and fresh. I find it turns out best when I cook it a bit less time than I think I should. Less is more with this guy! I’ve made the mistake of cooking the hell out of it in the past and it’s something I try not to repeat.
A few notes about asparagus:
- Look for firm spears that don’t bend easily. Asparagus doesn’t tend to last very long, so it’s best consumed within 48 hours of purchasing. When you bring it home, wrap the stems in a damp paper towel to extend freshness.
- Asparagus may aid in digestion thanks to its inulin content which is said to function as a “prebiotic”
- In 1 cup of raw asparagus you’ll receive Vitamin K (69.6% Daily Value), Vitamin A (20.2% DV), Folate (17.4% DV), Iron (15.7% DV), Vitamin B1 (12.6% DV), Vitamin C (12.5% DV), 3 grams protein, 2.75 grams fibre, and more.
- It can act as a diuretic causing you to lose more fluid than normal. Be sure to get enough water throughout the day.
- Asparagus is anti-inflammatory thanks to its large composition of anti-inflammatory nutrients.
- Source: World’s Healthiest Foods
Since spring produce seems to be picking up speed around here, I’m celebrating my first spring recipe of the season today – a warm spring salad featuring asparagus, leek, peas, strawberries, and lots of parsley all tossed in a simple lemon olive oil dressing. Easy, light, and super refreshing. If you’d like to add even more protein than what the quinoa + veggies provide I’m sure it would be nice with some white beans, chickpeas, or French lentils thrown in too. Eric also suggested we sprinkle some seeds on top – pumpkin and hemp – and that was a very nice addition!
Keep in mind that the strawberries will turn the quinoa a pinkish hue once tossed. If this is a concern or if you are making this in advance, I suggest adding the strawberries on just before serving.
Cheers to crunchy, fresh spring salads!
Warm Spring Salad
Vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or try speltberries, but note they are not GF)
- 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 leek, sliced into rounds or half moons
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bunch asparagus, ends broken off and chopped into 1-inch pieces
- 1 cup diced strawberries (optional)
- 3/4 cup fresh or frozen peas
- 1 cup fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or other sweetener)
- 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt & lots of pepper, to taste
- lemon zest, for garnish
1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place into a medium pot. Add 1.5 cups vegetable broth (or water) and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to low-medium, cover with tight-fitting lid, and cook for 15-17 minutes, or until fluffy and all the water is absorbed. Fluff with fork, remove from heat, and let sit covered for 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, grab a very large skillet or wok. Sauté the leek and garlic in the oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat. Season generously with salt and pepper. Add in the asparagus and sauté for another 5-10 minutes or until the asparagus is just tender, but still a bit crisp. Stir in the strawberries (optional), peas, and parsley. Heat for a few minutes and then remove from heat.
3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients (olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt) to taste. Pour dressing onto skillet mixture and stir in the cooked quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper & enjoy! This would also be lovely with nuts or seeds sprinkled on top.
Oh, I forgot to mention – this is also fantastic served cold too!