I have been cooking and eating asparagus for many years, usually steamed and buttered or, rarely, with hollandaise sauce. My love affair with asparagus has been ongoing, but like a lazy lover, it's been the missionary position (steamed and buttered) for most of our relationship. Who would have imagined that my grown daughter would reignite my passion for asparagus simply by laying the lovely spears on a cookie sheet, sprinkling olive oil and a bit of salt and pepper on them, and broiling them. Oh, the gorgeous aroma of those regal spears; how it weaved through the kitchen and into the dining room where I inhaled a new and fragrant asparagus perfume. A first bite, cooked yet crunchy, yielded to my mouth and I was once again instantly, completely besotted by this relative to the Lily. Next time my daughter cooked asparagus at my home, she added crumbled blue cheese to the asparagus and baked it for 10 minutes. What can I say to describe the result? It was like tasting first love for the second time, a rare and wonderful experience.
Yesterday I finished the leftover baked asparagus from Christmas dinner. My husband doesn't eat asparagus; his passion is green beans and broccoli, and I'm okay with that. He enjoys my love of asparagus because my passion for it often spills over into a passion we share, making me wonder if asparagus has aphrodisiac properties. I decided to investigate.
Asparagus has more than looks and taste. A 1-cup serving provides 66% of the daily recommended amount of folate, which reduces one's risk of heart disease and heart attacks. It's been used throughout the ages to treat swelling for arthritis and rheumatism and is a natural diuretic. Asparagus is a good source of potassium and it's very low in sodium. A cup of asparagus eaten frequently with meals during the early stages of pregnancy supplies enough folate, a B vitamin, to help the nervous system of the fetus to develop properly and can prevent birth defects such as spina bifida. Even though folate is found in many green, leafy vegetables, folate deficiency is the biggest vitamin deficiency in the world. I guess Americans aren't the only people who don't like to eat their vegetables.
Asparagus is also an excellent way to get a big helping of vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin A, as well as being a source of vitamin B1, B2, B3 and B6, along with manganese, copper, phosphorous, potassium, protein and of course, fiber. It even has been known to reduce menstrual cramps, and I'll vouch for it as an aphrodisiac. Some reports suggest it has anti-aging properties, another reason to keep it on the menu.
As a vegetarian since 1979, I've cooked asparagus and used it as pasta, added it to pasta with a little olive oil, and in general eaten more than my share. But now that I have new ways to cook asparagus, it's like starting over with a new vegetable. And now, my ode to this elegant edible.
Asparagus, your spear of green is like a dart shot to my heart, as raw you are a flirty veg, and baked you send me to the edge, I think that I shall never eat a better food, fait accompli.
Try 'em, you'll love 'em.