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Here at Big Barn we think that asparagus is the king of locally grown, fresh produce. It’s so popular in the UK that we don’t export a single spear of asparagus despite growing huge quantities. It’s also one of those superfoods – so good for you that just 5 fresh spears count as 2 of your 5-a-day. We firmly believe that every school should have asparagus bed to show children how easy and exciting those little spears can be.
In a perfect world, asparagus should be eaten within 2 hours from picking – that’s 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.
With the extra demand for local farm shops at the moment, now is the time to make use of their connections to local farms and gorge yourself on really fresh shoots, or buy crowns and create your own asparagus bed for a crop in 2 years time. Once established in a couple of years, you could earn yourself a few pennies by selling your excess through local shops via our Crop for the Shop initiative.
Usually, the fact that asparagus crops are coming out right at the start of the summer term makes them brilliant for the 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, look like spears 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 doesn’t excite you, then we’d mix it with the zesty flavour of lemon juice, black pepper, goats cheese and that 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.
There we go, hopefully you’re sold! 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.