NIAGARA EATS: All about asparagus

Justine Hays

One of our earliest signs of the growing season is asparagus. This green, stalky vegetable is packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and fiber. When in season, asparagus is very affordable. It also freezes well so you can buy a bit extra and store it in the freezer for up to six months. When choosing asparagus, the stalk size doesn’t matter. Some prefer thinner, more tender stalks, where others prefer thicker stalks they can chop into rounds. Look for the top of the asparagus to be tightly closed. Asparagus can be green, purple or white.

Asparagus is a great addition to chilled pasta salad or warm pasta primavera. It’s also great as a breakfast or lunch on the Asparagus Mushroom Melt, featured in Niagara Eats in years past. You can find that recipe on www.foodhero.org.

Asparagus also makes a great side dish. Simple Parmesan Asparagus can be added to any dish to bump up the nutrition and add an extra vegetable. This recipe can be found at https://www.snapedny.org/2021/03/parmesan-roasted-asparagus/ . About five asparagus stalks will provide your body with 114 calories, 9.2g of fat, 400mg of sodium, 7.3g of carbohydrates, 24g of fiber, and 6.7g of protein.

Parmesan Asparagus

Ingredients:

2.5 lbs of fresh asparagus

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp black pepper

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Wash asparagus under running water, snap or chop off any rough bottoms.

3. Lay them in a single layer on a pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Roast for 15-20 minutes, or until desired tenderness.

5. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

6. Enjoy and refrigerate leftovers within two hours.

One of our favorite ways to buy asparagus is on the CCE Niagara Veggie Van! This mobile farmer market will be out rolling into a community near you, starting in June! Keep your eyes peeled for the Veggie Van and asparagus. This year, the Veggie Van is partnering with Eastern Niagara Hospital (ENH) and the SNAP-Ed program on a new produce prescription program, Farmacy. Farmacy aims to bring fresh, local produce, to patients at ENH and ENH Express Care clinics. Participants can earn FREE fruits and veggies after attending nutrition workshops. To learn more visit http://cceniagaracounty.org/food-nutrition-health/farmacy-a-fruit-and-vegetable-prescription-program

If you’re interested in learning more about the Farmacy program or healthy cooking that saves you money, check us out on Facebook @cceniagaracounty or email us at jah625@cornell.edu. You can even visit our website, www.SNAPEDNY.org for more tips and tricks and to find virtual classes.

SNAP-Ed is funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help you buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, contact 1-800-352-8401.

Justine Hays is a lead nutritionist for Eat Smart NY Western Region, which is funded by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

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