Spring is here when bright green (sometimes white or even purple) asparagus start filling the produce section of the local grocery store or farmers market.
Health Benefits: Asparagus is one of the highest natural sources of folic acid, which is essential for moms to be! Folic acid prevents an excess of homocysteine from forming. Homocysteine interferes with crucial hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. No one wants his or her mood, sleep, or appetite to be interfered with! Also high in Vitamin K, asparagus can help bone health and blood clotting.
What to look for: Search for asparagus that are plump and straight. When in doubt check the ends! If they seem dried out or cracked open it is a sign those asparagus have seen better days. Now onto the thick vs. thin debate. All a matter of personal preference, Thin spears are tender, while thick may need to be peeled, but are just as tender and tasty.
How to store: Fresh uncooked asparagus will keep 3-4 days in the refrigerator. You can stretch their life by wrapping the ends in a damp paper towel or even better placing them upright in an inch of water.
Asparagus Pesto Pasta
(fresh asparagus pesto, whole wheat pasta)
What you need:
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
Zest and juice of half a lemon
3 garlic cloves
1 cup parmesan
¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher or flake salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
16 ounces whole wheat spaghetti noodles
Tarragon to garnish
What to do: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
In the bowl of a food processor, fitted with the blade attachment, add the asparagus, lemon juice and zest, garlic, parmesan, and toasted pine nuts. Pulse until combined. Slowly stream in the olive oil and process until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 7-9 minutes. Drain water.
Combine the pasta and asparagus pesto. Toss to coat. Garnish with tarragon and serve.
*If you need a delicious side, pair the pasta with our herb and garlic mushrooms.
Now that you know how to cook and store the delicious vegetable, it's time to head to your local market and start reaping the health benefits of asparagus!