Springtime in Michigan means a new opportunity for fresh crops at your local farmers market. While many markets are open year-round, the availability of certain fresh crops is limited. But when spring rolls around, tables are lined with fresh produce grown locally.
Michigan’s climate allows for certain cold-weather crops like potatoes or carrots. As soon as spring enters, more crops like fresh fruit and colorful peppers can start popping up. One of the first crops to appear in Michigan is asparagus.
With a passion for eating local, we want to help you find great ways to incorporate healthy veggies like asparagus into your life. To help, here we share why asparagus can be such a versatile and beneficial ingredient for your healthy lifestyle and three of the top ways you can prepare it for lunch or dinner today.
You may already be a big fan of asparagus. Or you may be a little hesitant to eat it regularly due to its unique texture and bold flavor. Not only does asparagus bring in a great option for a side dish or incorporated into a main dish; it also comes with a wide variety of health benefits you won’t want to miss out on.
This vibrant green veggie is packed full of fiber and key nutrients like vitamins A, E and K. It’s also a great source of folate and helps to regulate blood sugar, too. Prebiotics make it a resource for your digestive system and its antioxidants make it a power source for staying healthy.
Asparagus also has helpful properties in boosting our brainpower in preventing decline. The folate in asparagus works with vitamin B12 to support your cognitive power. Its antioxidants fight off free radicals, another way to slow the aging process and limiting inflammation that can lead to more serious health concerns.
Michigan is also a great location to find fresh asparagus. Rather than picking it up from the grocery store, you can grab a fresh bunch of asparagus at your local farmers market, usually starting in April. It’s one of the first fresh crops to appear for the spring season, making it a welcomed sight on market tables. By selecting your bunch from a market, you have the opportunity to directly support your farmers right in your own community.
As you add this fresh veggie into your meal plan, we’re here to help. When picking your bunch of asparagus, look for spears that have crisp, not soggy heads. You can also tell their freshness as fresh asparagus snap apart when you bend them.
Quick tip: If you get asparagus that’s really thick, take a vegetable peeler and shave off the top layer of the asparagus skin. When cooking, you’ll get right to that softer inside rather than a crunchy, stringy exterior.
Once you get your bunch, you can prepare and eat them in a way that tastes delicious and preserves the essential nutrients they have. Here are just a few of the many ways you can incorporate this rich and healthy veggie into your cooking:
As a green vegetable rich in nutrients, it just makes sense to slice up some asparagus and throw it in with a salad. Whether you choose to sauté them before adding in or slicing them up raw, asparagus salads bring a dynamic texture balance of crunchy and smooth that’s sure to delight.
As asparagus is such a versatile veggie, you can incorporate your favorite flavors into whatever salad you’re whipping up. Mix it up with fresh summer produce like squash and cherry tomatoes in this salad recipe or this fall salad. Or, take on a new version of a caesar salad with this asparagus-infused version that uses our Sicilian Lemon balsamic vinegar. However you choose to eat your salads, amp up the flavors and nutrients with asparagus.
Roasting a sheet pan of veggies is a quick and easy way to add flavor and whip up a side dish. Whether you choose to add other vegetables in or go solo, roasting asparagus enhances the crisp and fresh flavor easily. All you’ll need to do is arrange your asparagus spears on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle on your favorite EVOO. Roast in a 400F degree oven for 10 minutes, turning spears around once until slightly wilted. Check out more flavoring ideas with this roasted asparagus recipe that ends with a sweet Cinnamon Pear balsamic vinegar drizzle.
Warmer temperatures outside mean it’s the perfect time to fire up the grill and cook anything and everything you can on it. Including asparagus. As a veggie to welcome in spring, asparagus and starting the grilling season pair together well. After preheating your grill, arrange your asparagus spears on the racks, and drizzle your favorite EVOO on the spears. Grill for about 6 minutes, rotating occasionally until lightly browned. Read more about best practices when grilling vegetables in this helpful recipe overview.
Asparagus may have gotten a bad rap from picky eaters due to its bold green color and unique texture. But with so many ways to prepare it that are flavorful, easy and family-friendly, you can bring asparagus back to the dinner table. After picking out a bunch at your local farmers’ market or grocery store, try out these great ways to prepare your asparagus. By blending popular cooking techniques with the flavor-boosting ingredients from Fustini’s EVOO and balsamic vinegar.
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