Got any tips for selecting and cooking asparagus?
The California asparagus harvest is underway and the folks at the California Asparagus Commission have some helpful information to share about this favorite springtime veggie.?
At the market, select spears of similar diameter so that they cook evenly. Tips should be compactly closed. Peak selection in markets runs through May.
As a side dish, allow 6 to 8 medium to plump spears, or 10 to 15 skinny ones, per serving. This is about ⅓ to 1/2 pound untrimmed asparagus per person.
Store, wrapped in plastic in the refrigerator, for up to three days. Once cooked, asparagus can be stored for about three days.
One serving of asparagus is low in calories and very low in sodium. Asparagus is an excellent source of folic acid and a fairly significant source of vitamin C, thiamine and vitamin B6. Asparagus contains no fat or cholesterol of any significance and is an important source of potassium and many micronutrients.
The Commission offers a recipe for their California Asparagus Bruschetta, which combines melted Gruyere cheese with prosciutto and tips of the succulent spears. For more information, recipes and tips, visit www.calasparagus.com.
- 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
- 8 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
- 6 ounces good country ham, or 4 ounces Prosciutto, finely chopped or ground in food processor
- 1 (10 oz.) French baguette, cut into ½-inch slices, grilled or toasted
- 3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut in half
- Extra-Virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat broiler. Bring a large saute pan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook until tender crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the asparagus to a colander, refresh under cold running water to stop the cooking, and drain well. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine the cheese and ham; toss to mix. Set aside.
- Using your fingers to hold the garlic, rub the clove against one side of the toasted bread to flavor the entire surface. Drizzle or brush with a bit of the olive oil.
- Arrange the blanched asparagus on the toasts, then divide the cheese and ham topping evenly over the asparagus. Season with salt and pepper.
- Place bruschetta on a baking sheet and broil just until the cheese melts and begins to brown, about 1-2 minutes. Keep a careful watch so as not to burn. Serve immediately.