Discovering our food: asparagus

Hello my dear readers,

White, violet or green, spring vegetables with few calories, asparagus can be eaten steamed or boiled and season with salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar or in a classic way with eggs.

Asparagus are tender and succulent spring vegetables, extremely rich in beneficial properties. They represent a perennial variety, whose cultivation in Europe began over a thousand years ago.

Everything you need to know about asparagus_Popsicle Society

What are asparagus 

Asparagus, vegetables of very ancient origins, are the edible part of a perennial, spring herbaceous plant, Asparagus officinalis. 

Asparagus are young shoots, which sprout at the base of the woody rhizomes, called legs. They have an elongated shape, fleshy consistency and a rather delicate flavor that evokes that of the artichoke. Their flavor changes slightly depending on whether they are green, white, violet or wild. They contain few calories and are therefore suitable for a weight loss diet and have particular diuretic properties.

From where asparagus comes from?

Asparagus origins_Popsicle Society

It seems that the cultivation of asparagus originated in the Eden valley in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and the Euphrates, thus spreading to ancient Egypt and Asia Minor over 2000 years ago, and subsequently throughout the Mediterranean.

They will arrive in Egypt, where the beautiful Nefertiti will have them in her last home for the great journey to the afterlife.

And from Egypt to Greece where an observer of nature called Theophrastus, will first try to understand mushrooms as well as these strange products of the earth, aphrodisiac in shape and a medicament for the diuretic, purifying action they had on people.

From Greece to Rome, dedicated to the goddess of beauty Venus perhaps more in appearance than in flavor, they entered the most important kitchens of Imperial Rome.

On the tables of the Roman emperors, asparagus were often present, it seems that they had built special ships to go and collect them, ships called precisely “asparagus”. 

The term asparagus derives from the Latin asparagus, which means sprout.

Considered indispensable to increase sexual potency they will travel in the stocks of the supplies of the Roman Legions which spread their cultivation in Spain and then in Germany, Holland and Poland, to arrive last (as for the potato), in France where the Sun King erected an obelisk in honor of the gardener who managed to produce it fresh during the entire year.

Only later was it introduced in North America but mainly for medicinal uses.

White, violet or green

In northern Europe between Holland and France where the cold and darkness of the Middle Ages marked earth and men, it was decided to protect the asparagus, to cover those turions during growth. And here is where “magic” happened. Covering the asparagus they did not produce chlorophyll so they remained white, sweet to the taste and not herbaceous, while if only the tip was left in the light immediately began a mild purple pigmentation, changing its flavor from tendentially sweet to slightly bitter but never herbaceous.

Variety of asparagus 

As a whole there are more than 200 varieties of asparagus. They are distinguished above all by appearance, flavor and type of cultivation.

White or Bassano asparagus

White asparagus_Popsicle Society
Photo credit: Pixabay, RitaE

Bassano del Grappa is a region in Northern Italy, very close from my home, famous for growing the white asparagus.

They are grown in the absence of light and they have a delicate flavor.

Violet asparagus

purple asparagus
Photo credit: Google images, Purple Passion F1

With a more rustic and slightly bitter taste, they are actually white asparagus that manage to escape from their site and, seeing the light, the tip becomes lilac.

Green asparagus

green asparagus
Photo credit: Pixabay, jackmac34

They sprout in the open air, have a marked flavor and their bud has a sweet taste. It is the only asparagus that does not need to be peeled.

Wild asparagus

wild asparagus
Photo credit: Pixabay, dawnfu

They are ideal for omelettes and soups, also called field asparagus, they grow spontaneously, are thin and have uniform color.

Here in Singapore most of the time I find the green and the wild asparagus. The green ones I like to eat them with boiled eggs or with hollandaise sauce and the wild ones are perfect for tramezzini which are Italian sandwich made from two slices of soft white bread, with the crusts removed and are very popular and inexpensive snack sandwiches available at many Italian bars throughout the day. Can make them with a variety of fillings, ham and cheese, with veggies or as I like to do them with boiled eggs and wild asparagus.

Use of asparagus in the kitchen 

Asparagus recipes_Popsicle Society

White, green and violet asparagus are suitable for all recipes, while wild ones are preferable for omelettes and soups.

In Italy, asparagus is served in various ways according to local traditions: sauteed with butter and Parmesan, accompanied by fried or boiled or soft-boiled eggs, served with vinaigrette, with Maltese sauce or with a drizzle of olive oil and Parmigiano reggiano.

Asparagus can be used to prepare soups, mousses or velvet creams. 

In Chinese restaurants it is possible to eat fried asparagus paired with chicken, shrimp or beef.

In France and Germany it is typical to serve white asparagus with hollandaise sauce.

How to understand if they are fresh 

To be sure that the asparagus is fresh when you purchase it, observe the tips that must not be folded, but beautiful straight and not mushy. The stems must be shiny, hard, of the same thickness and free of cracks.

How to keep the asparagus

green and white asparagus
Photo credit: Pixabay, Sarah_Loetscher

In the refrigerator for 4 days, in the vegetable drawer, wrapped in a damp cloth. Outside the refrigerator, they are kept with the stems immersed in cold water for 24 hours.

How to clean the asparagus 

To clean the asparagus it is necessary to eliminate the woody end and, depending on the type, remove the white skin up to 4 cm below the sprout or more in the case of old or particularly large asparagus. If you want to keep the stem because it is tender enough, you can scrape it a bit with a knife or with a normal potato peeler.

Properties and calories of asparagus 

white asparagus properties
Photo credit: Pixabay, RitaE

Asparagus contains few calories, which is why they are particularly suitable for weight loss diets. They have purifying properties, as well as a high content of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and potassium and are low in sodium. 

Asparagine is one of the amino acids present in abundance, which is used for the manufacture of numerous protein substances, and therefore for the transformation of sugar. In addition, the asparagine which constitutes a natural diuretic, allows the body to excrete excess sodium.

Is rich in rutin which serves to reinforce the walls of the capillaries. Folic acid is present in abundance too. Manganese and Vitamin A which have a beneficial effect on ligaments, kidneys and skin. Phosphorus and Vitamin B that allow you to fight against fatigue.

Asparagus are a treasure full of beneficial nutrients.

Recent studies have indicated asparagus among the elements indicated for food consumption in order to implement a type 2 diabetes prevention that starts right from the table. The active ingredients contained in asparagus through laboratory experiments have proven to be able to act by promoting the production of insulin and decreasing blood glucose levels.

Asparagus, as well as avocado, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, are particularly rich in a substance called glutathione, useful for promoting the purification of the body, improving its ability to get rid of harmful substances and carcinogenic components, as well as than free radicals.

It is for this reason that the consumption of asparagus could be judged useful in the prevention of some forms of cancer, with particular reference to bone, breast, colon, larynx and lung cancer. 

Asparagus is also rich in antioxidants, a feature that makes them among the most useful plants to counter the signs of aging. According to some preliminary studies, asparagus could be useful to slow down the biological age advancement process.

Another beneficial property attributed to asparagus concerns their potential ability to help our brain counteract cognitive decline.

Asparagus has a high content of potassium, a precious mineral salt for the regulation of blood pressure and for the functioning of the muscles, including the heart.

Together with Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus are considered particularly beneficial for our digestive system due to their content of inulin, a type of carbohydrate that reaches the intestine intact and which represents an ideal source of nourishment for the bacterial flora, with particular reference to lactobacilli. In addition to supporting digestion, asparagus is considered to be a true natural anti-inflammatory.

Asparagus benefits_Popsicle Society

In summary, the asparagus are:

  • Rich in vitamins
  • Rich in mineral salts
  • Rich in fiber
  • They purify the body and are diuretics
  • They prevent type 2 diabetes
  • They are antioxidants
  • They prevent some forms of cancer
  • They contribute to the proper functioning of the nervous system
  • They prevent cardiovascular diseases
  • They are natural anti-inflammatories
  • They help digestion and improve intestinal functions

Calories of asparagus 

100 gr of asparagus contain about 25 Kcal. 

Contraindications 

It is preferable not to consume asparagus in cases of uricemia, gout and kidney stones, urinary diseases in general. Limit consumption in case of arteriosclerosis.

Among the “side effects” of asparagus there is the characteristic smell that urine have after their consumption, there is nothing to worry about, as is due to the presence of asparagine.

I like very much asparagus and is really reminding me of spring 🌸

Do you eat asparagus? How do you like it?

Thank you all for reading.

And if you would like to discover more about our food, you may enjoy my previous posts

Wish you a wonderful day!

And please stay at home and stay safe!

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Love, R

Popsicle Society_kiss

 

52 thoughts on “Discovering our food: asparagus

  1. I only discovered asparagus later in my life. Not really available until then. It was then a delicacy that few could afford. Now, however, it is much more affordable. Thankyou so much for this Ribana. You stay safe too.

    1. Thank you very much for sharing Lorraine! I must admit, I discovered it only when I moved to Italy but from then I simply love it 😍 😋
      Wish you a wonderful afternoon! Stay safe! Lots of hugs 🤗 🤗💕🌸

      1. Lots of hugs to you as well. Yes, asparagus is lovely. Yum yum. I want some now ha ha

  2. My first thought was do people eat bamboo stick? Then I realised it’s not a bamboo it’s an “👽 Alien😂” for me. I have never seen this vegetable here. I heard asparagus word, never knew it’s a vegetable and people eat it. 😁 This one like all other Beautiful plants in earth comes with its very own genuine benefits. An alien vegetable indeed. At least for me. 😉 Great informative post Ribanna! thanks for sharing. Have a wonderful day ✨💐

    1. Oh my, you made me laugh Simon! Thank you very much 🤪🤪 Well, is never too late to discover something new right? I’m sure Nisha will know how to cook a delicious asparagus for you 😉
      Thank you again Simon for your time and support! Have a wonderful evening! 🤗😊🤩

      1. It’s my cooking time during this quarantine time, Nisha is at her mom’s house I got stuck at my place during lockdown. I will search for this asparagus, if I find it, I’ll definitely buy atleast a piece or two to test my cooking skills ✨☺️ And I tried the spinach Salad 😋 it’s good than I imagined. ✨☺️

      2. Oh so all alone? Then you cook and you eat 😉 no probability of intoxicating someone 🤪 (I was kidding 🤪)
        I’m glad you tried and liked the spinach salad! You are a fan of healthy eating 😉 And then you can combine it with what you like most 😉
        I’m sure you’ll like asparagus too 😉 I have a super easy and quick recipe with asparagus coming this Saturday 😉

      3. Ha ha ha, yup, all alone and eating healthy foods as I wanted 😋Oh I’m looking forward to it☺️ let’s have some fun cooking 😁💐

  3. Oh! I can’t wait for our asparagus to start popping their little heads up! We just crave them this time of year. I resist buying the out-of-state offerings right now, they just don’t taste as good, and I have one little package in the freezer left from last year I’ll savor until we have our own supply!

  4. I used to grow asparagus when I had my own garden, it is delicious! I like it with melted cheese spread on it. I never knew there was other colors, have only seen the regular green ones around here. Great post Ribana! Always nice to learn something new about our food!😃😺🌞

    1. Great! Eating your own grown veggies is wonderful 😉 I guess you miss it 😊 At least I miss my grandma’s garden 🤪
      The purple and the white ones I don’t see them too often here either but back in Italy the white ones were the most delicious 😋
      Thank you very much Steve! I’m really glad you like it! 🤩😻

  5. I bet there are many reasons why I should start eating asparagus, but after trying them on several occasions I just never fancied them again. I’ll stick to spinach instead. Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day 😀 Aiva

    1. Hahaha…well it has a particular taste…is the kind or you like it or you don’t 🤪
      Spinach is Wonderfull too 😉
      Thank you very much Aiva for stopping by! Have a wonderful day too! 😊

  6. We have an asparagus patch at the side of our house. It produces masses of asparagus and we do nothing for it. In the spring we clear it of weeds and the dead foliage from the previous years asparagus and then up it comes. We eat it, give it away, make soup. Love it.

    1. Thank you very much! No, is very easy and crunchy! Some of them, if are really thick, you need to cut 1-2 centimetres from the bottom, but for the rest everything is edible and when you grill or steam it is soft 😉

  7. I am still picking the odd asparagus here in Tasmania. I love eating it raw freshly picked.
    Thank you as always for the interesting history of this delicious veggie.

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