The name asparagus comes from
the Greek word meaning “sprout”
or “shoot.” Asparagus has been
cultivated for more than 2,000 years,
though growing this vegetable is no
easy task. A crop takes two or more
years to become established, and
each stage of the process involves
manual labor by workers. Once
established, though, this popular
vegetable can grow up to seven
inches in a single day!
These vitamin-rich stalks boost your
health in numerous ways. Check out
our tips and tasty recipe for easy
ways to enjoy this mighty superfood.
Asparagus is a great source of B vitamins, including vitamin B1 (thiamin), B2,
niacin, choline, vitamin B6, folic acid and pantothenic acid. B vitamins help your
body transform the energy you get from food into adenosine triphosphate (ATP),
the kind of energy your cells need to keep everything from your brain cells to
your nerve cells in tip-top shape.
At only about 26 calories per cup, asparagus serves up 67 percent of your
daily recommended amount of vitamin C, vitamin A for eye health, high levels
of vitamin K for strong and healthy bones, as well as a healthy dose of hber and
other necessary nutrients.
Choose hrm, bright-green stalks with tightly closed tips. Similarly-sized spears will
cook at the same rate, so look for bunches where the stalks appear to be about
the same diameter.
Jumbo spears are just as tender as thinner ones – it is actually the bright green
hue that determines tenderness. The greener the spears, the more tender they
will be.
spears are
actually more
levels of
than the
Source: California
Asparagus Commission
California Asparagus
Risotto with Shrimp
and Lemon
(Serves 6)
• 1½ pounds large California asparagus, trimmed
• 4 cups chicken broth, preferably reduced salt
• ½ cup chopped shallot
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 cup arborio (short grain) rice
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped lemon zest
• ½ cup dry white wine
• 1 pound rock shrimp
• Salt to taste
• Freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Put asparagus into a large skillet of salted,
boiling water. Return to a boil; boil until tender-crisp,
about 3 minutes.
2. Drain well; spread on paper towel to cool. Cut
into 1-inch lengths; reserve.
3. In a small saucepan, bring broth to a simmer;
reduce to lowest heat possible to keep warm.
4. In a larger saucepan, saute shallot over medium
heat in olive oil until soft, about 3 minutes.
5. Stir in rice until well-coated with oil. Cook rice,
stirring constantly, another minute or 2 until rice is
opaque. Stir in lemon zest.
6. Deglaze with white wine, stirring constantly.
Stir in 1/2 cup hot broth, cook over medium heat,
stirring constantly, until broth has been absorbed
and mixture thickens. Risotto should cook at lively
simmer; adjust heat as necessary.
7. Continue process, using half cup hot broth at a
time, making sure rice absorbs liquid before adding
more. Continue adding broth. When rice is just
tender, stir in reserved asparagus and shrimp. Cook,
stirring constantly, until shrimp is pink. The risotto
should be very creamy not soupy nor gummy.
8. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Source: Recipe from The California Asparagus Commission
Thicker spears are perfect for throwing
on the grill or roasting in the oven,
while thinner spears are best to cut
and use in dishes such as stir-fries.
Asparagus can be enjoyed a number
of ways: steaming, grilling and
roasting to name a few. Cooking times
vary depending on the diameter of
your spears. Here are a few cooking
methods to try!
Microwave (3-5 minutes)
Arrange asparagus in a microwave-
safe dish with tips facing towards the
center. Add a very small amount of
water to the bottom of the dish – just
enough so that the spears will steam.
Cover the dish with plastic wrap,
leaving one corner open to allow steam
to escape. Microwave on high for 3-5
minutes. Let stand about three minutes
before serving.
Stir-Fry (3-5 minutes)
Cut asparagus spears diagonally into
1-inch pieces, taking care to keep the
tips whole. Heat a tablespoon of your
favorite oil that stands up well to heat
(sesame oil is a good choice). Add
asparagus and stir-fry for 3-5 minutes.
On The Grill (8-10 minutes)
Coat extra-large asparagus spears
with olive oil and season with sea salt
and freshly ground black pepper. Place
directly on the grill, turning several
times until spears become tender.
Instead of using a knife to trim
asparagus spears, snap off the bottom
of each spear one by one. The stalk
will break where it naturally begins to
get tough.
Depending on which study you read,
between 22 percent and 50 percent
of the population report having foul-
smelling urine after eating asparagus.
The odor is thought to be due to a
sulfur-containing compound called
methanethiol that is produced as
asparagus is digested. For years,
scientists weren’t sure if only some
people produced the smell or if the
odor could only be detected by some
people. Recent studies discovered that
it was in fact a genetic mutation in the
olfactory receptors, allowing some to
identify this distinct smell while others
are not able. MS&F
Green Versus
White Asparagus
White asparagus is grown
underground. The spears are
covered by mounded dirt so that
they’re not exposed to light (a
process known as etiolation).
Without light, the plant can’t
produce chlorophyll and therefore,
it is kept from turning green.

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