Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Asparagus

Asparagus, though it can make your pee smell terrible (sorry, that's not an appetizing way to begin a post) is an easy and delicious side dish.

Some facts about asparagus:
  • It is a good source of B6, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
  • It's also a good source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin A, C, E, K, thiamin, riboflavin, rutin, niacin, folic acid, iron, phosphorus, potassium, copper, manganese and selenium.
  • And it's got a good amount of chromium in it, which sounds scary if you've seen Erin Brockovich (hexavalent chromium anyone?) but it's an important mineral that helps the insulin in your body move the glucose in the bloodstream into the cells.
  • There are key enzymes in asparagus that help to break down alcohol so if you munch on a few with your cocktails, you'll avoid getting hungover in the morning.
  • It also helps you go to the potty (both #1 and #2). And it makes your pee smell funky because it's got some sulfuric compound in it and once it goes through your body, it gets broken down by enzymes and that's when the smell is unleashed. However, not everyone has the gene that can break down the compound (which is called mercaptan, by the way). Those people are lucky.
  • Asparagus and tomatoes can help each other in the garden because each repels a pest that enjoys the other.
My favorite way to make asparagus is to just grill it for a few seconds. But, when it gets too cold to grill outdoors, I just fire up a cast-iron skillet (or grill pan), add a little olive oil, and let the spears cook until they're tender, rolling them around every once in a while to make sure they cook evenly. You'll notice that they start off looking sort of pale and then they'll take on a richer, more vibrant green color as they cook (along with some lovely browning from the heat and oil). If you let them cook for too long, they'll turn a sickly puce army green - avoid that. You will also notice in my photo that my spears have jagged bottoms. That's because I snapped off the bottom few inches where it's too woody and fibrous and not tender.
Once the asparagus are cooked to your liking, plate them.

Then, sprinkle on a bit of salt and pepper.
And enjoy.
Here's the recipe page, if you need it:

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