Amongst the Asparagus…

Asparagus is one vegetable that just simply commands your attention, let’s be real, its shaped like a spear (show some respect people).  Each “spear” is at least 4 inches long (after you trim off the rough bottom 2 inches) its two different shades of pretty green… stuff, with hints of purple.  (Asparagus is also available in purple or white varieties) I mean this stuff is  just majestic and graceful, its very texture demands your careful attention when cooking it (if you remember to treat it like a lady, and you’ll do just fine). I once had a dream where after a long walk, I rested amongst the sunshine, cool wind, and a glorious crop of asparagus.  The dream itself was so real, and inspiring.  And this might sound silly, but it felt like heaven, minus the chubby little naked cherubs.  Since then I’ve been searching for that same feeling of bliss in each bunch of asparagus, bite by bite. 

Cooking asparagus is a delicate balance of extreme caution; erring on the side of firmness  (regardless of the cooking method) and staking your life on staying far far way from a limp stalk (who in Gods green earth wants limp asparagus???? ) It just so happens that when you eat asparagus, you automatically become more sophisticated, and cool .  That’s right, when you choose asparagus, you become part of an elite group of individuals (Eating asparagus makes you a role model automatically). The reasons are pretty obvious. Asparagus is a low calorie, high fiber, nutrient dense food; which happens to be a fantastic source of folic acid ( King amongst all vegetables). In fact the Michigan Asparagus Advisory Board states that a 5.3 oz. portion of asparagus provides 60% of the RDA of folacin (folic acid). That’s great news for pregnant women, and for anyone interested in maintaining proper brain function or preventing certain cancers (insert my picture here).  Its pretty clear that the facts stack up in favor of eating.  Like I said, eating one serving automatically casts you into an elite group individuals who deserve hero worship.  Join me in chasing the dream of living large, amongst the asparagus. Try this creative take on asparagus from The Vegetarian Times! Enjoy!

Cheers,

 

Chef Will Hall

 

 

 

 

 

CHEDDAR-ALMOND OPEN-FACED SANDWICHES
Serves 6

The secret to this flavorful sandwich is the special sauce made of toasted almonds, roasted garlic and some of the asparagus. And our roasting method allows you to cook the garlic in only 20 minutes (not an hour) and even in a toaster-oven. Note: A small head of garlic yields about 2 Tbs. roasted garlic.

2 small heads garlic
1 1⁄2 lb. asparagus, trimmed
3 Tbs. olive oil
1⁄2 tsp. salt
1⁄2 cup slivered almonds, toasted
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
6 slices pumpernickel bread
1 1⁄2 cups grated cheddar cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Separate garlic cloves, and place on baking sheet. Roast 20 minutes, or until skins begin to brown and garlic turns soft. Cool, then squeeze garlic from skin of each clove. Increase oven temperature to 450F.
  3. Toss asparagus in 1 Tbs. oil, and sprinkle with 1⁄4 tsp. salt. Place in single layer on baking sheet, and roast 4 to 8 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Cool. Trim ends so asparagus are same length as width of bread, and reserve ends.
  4. Put 1⁄4 cup almonds in food processor or blender, and chop fine. Add roasted garlic, reserved asparagus ends, lemon juice, remaining oil and remaining 1⁄4 tsp. salt, and purée until smooth.
  5. Preheat broiler.
  6. Place bread slices on baking sheet. Spread each slice with 2 Tbs. puréed almond mixture. Lay 4 or 5 asparagus spears on each bread slice, and top with 1⁄4 cup cheese. Broil sandwiches about 3 minutes, or until cheese has melted. Sprinkle sandwiches with remaining almonds.

PER SERVING: 320 CAL; 12G PROT; 21G TOTAL FAT (7G SAT. FAT); 21G CARB; 30MG CHOL; 550MG SOD; 4G FIBER; 2G SUGARS

 

 

 

References:

Asparagus image. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.muffintinmania.com/2010/05/curry-asparagus-mini-frittatas.html

Asparagus recipe. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.vegetariantimes.com/article/asparagus/

CARYN RABIN, R. (2013, 02 12). Study finds more benefits of folic acid. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/us/study-finds-more-benefits-of-folic-acid.html?_r=0

Discovery health -folic acid benefits. (2013). Retrieved from health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/food-nutrition/vitamin-supplements/folic-acid-benefits.htm

Linus pauling institute micronutrient research for optimum health. (2011, 05 09). Retrieved from lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/fa/

Michigan asparagus advisory board. (2000). Retrieved from http://www.asparagus.org/maab/nutrition.html

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