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The king of locally grown, and fresh produce, is asparagus. As a country we don’t export a single spear of asparagus, so it must be pretty special stuff. It’s so good for you that just 5 fresh spears count as 2 of you 5-a-day and we firmly believe every school should have an asparagus bed.
In a perfect world, asparagus would be eaten within 2 hours from picking when it’s at it’s best. The longer you leave it the more the natural sugars turn to starch and the base becomes stringy and inedible. So now is the time to find your local Asparagus grower and gorge yourself on really fresh shoots, or buy crowns and create your own asparagus bed for a crop in 2 years. You could even make money by selling your excess through local shops via our Crop for the Shop initiative. For Monty Don video on this click here.
The fact that these are coming up at the start of the summer term every year is a brilliant reason to have them in school growing beds. Once you’ve established your crop they come up every year right at the beginning of summer term. On top of that they are tasty and make your pee smell. It’s a perfect food to get kids learning and laughing. They can be added to the school menu or sold to parents or through the local shop.
Here are our top 5 things to do with asparagus:
1. Ever wanted to try to make a quiche? Well this gorgonzola and asparagus quiche recipe is spot on and tastes amazing with some fresh salad straight from the garden. Recipe here
2. A very basic starter for our new found favourite is just steamed asparagus with hollandaise sauce. Yep that’s it. So basic but so delicious. Recipe here
3. Asparagus and shrimp salad. All you need is a hard boiled egg, some prawns, delicious local asparagus and some mayonnaise. Mix together and there you have it a handy salad perfect to pack for a picnic. Recipe here
4. This one is definitely one of our favourites. Asparagus wraps. All you need is some cheese of your choice, prosciutto, lemon pepper, garlic power (or finely chopped garlic) balsamic vinegar. Roll everything up in the prosciutto and bake. Recipe here
5. Delicious asparagus risotto. We just love this dish. It’s light which makes it perfect for spring and the good thing is you can add what ever you like to it. I add prawns to mine or a handful of peas. Recipe here
If Asparagus on it’s own isn’t enough for you, it works brilliantly with zesty flavours like lemon juice, black pepper, goats cheese and is the perfect match for seafood. To be fair there is not all that much it doesn’t go with and it is so easy to buy locally this time of year.
If you’re not sold already here are some of the Asparagus Health facts we’ve found:
Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.
Like avocado, kale and Brussels sprouts—is a particularly rich source of glutathione, a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and other harmful compounds like free radicals and help protect against and fight certain forms of cancer.
Asparagus is packed with antioxidants, ranking among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralise cell-damaging free radicals and help slow the ageing process.
It may help our brains fight cognitive decline. Like leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate, which works with vitamin B12—found in fish, poultry, meat and dairy—to help prevent cognitive impairment.
It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts.
WOW, so there we go! If like us you are lucky enough to have an Asparagus bed you will cutting selected tips already a little earlier than last year. We planted our beds 5 years ago and can only pick until mid-June. They are delicious and incredibly sweet and tender if picked and cooked straight away.
We will be filling in any gaps this year with new crowns and hoping to try out some new recipes so that we can gorge on the crop and not get bored of such a healthy vegetable.
Or, if you have your own favourite asparagus recipe, why not share it with us? For the chance to win a prize, please video your recipe and add it to KIS (Keep it Simple) Cookery. Please have a look at existing videos here and try and keep your video less than 2 minutes long.