Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Basic Stir-Fried Asparagus, because Spring is finally here!


You know its Spring, when you spot those tiny green specs of new leaves on those gray barren trees you've been seeing for past five months.

You know its Spring when the happy chirping of birds accompany your morning tea.

You know its Spring when the Day Light Saving is implemented.

You know its Spring, when one day its gorgeous at 65 F and the very next day its back to low 20s. Or may be its just Cincinnati!

But I know its Spring, when I see abundant bundles of fresh green Asparagus, stock up high in my Farmers Market and at local grocery store!






Asparagus, like a lot of other veggies, came to my life only a couple of years back when we relocated to this country. And like the others, I too fell in love with it. You get asparagus all most all year round, but its best during this time of the year - fresh, lean and lanky, tender and super cheap. Others time, they can be tad woodsy and expensive. 




This is the only time of the year, I buy them fresh. Roasting and grilling are wonderful ways of cooking this fine vegetable, but me and my family prefer a quick stir fry with loads of garlic and pepper. Simple and basic. 




A powerhouse of nutrients, asparagus spears are also visually beautiful this time of the year; long and slender, with beautiful tips in a lovely shade of purple. 






This quick stir fry features at least once a week in our dinner menu, especially the entire spring and early summer. Its a brilliant side dish to those creamy pasta or a quick fix cracked wheat or quinoa pilaf. Its my favorite accompaniment with broiled salmon.  

The recipe I am sharing is the basic one. I often add some bells and whistles like sauteed leeks (or onoins), or some Indian tempering like cumin seeds or mustard seeds depending on my mood or the main course. But whatever you do, its tastes delicious any which way. 




Recipe Snapshot: Stir-Fried Asparagus

Serves: 3 serving
(1 serving = 1 cup)

What I used:
Fresh Asparagus Spears Tomatoes -  2 bundles ( about 1 lb)

Garlic - 5 fat cloves, mined or gated

Olive Oil - 1 tbsp

Salt  - 1/2 tsp or to taste

Freshly Pepper 

Nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds) -  a small handful, coarsely chopped (optional)

Handful of torn parsley for garnish (optional)

What I did:
1. Snaps the tough ends of the asparagus spears and cut in to two or three pieces. Wash them thoroughly.

2. Heat oil in a wide pan or skillet, add he garlic and let it cook till the raw smell is gone and its slightly golden. About a minuter and a half.

3. Add the asparagus spears, salt and pepper and toss around , so that all the spears are coated with garlic and oil. 

4. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. If you have tougher asparagus it will take a little long. For tougher asparagus, its advisable to steam for 3-5 minutes in microwave before adding to the pan. 

5. Once tender, take it off he flame, add a handful of chopped nuts and parsley for some crunch and freshness. 

6. Serve as a side dish to your favorite main course. 



Notes/Tip: If you do not have asparagus, this super simple stir-fry can be made with fresh green beans too. 

Variations: Can saute some onions , leeks, mushrooms, or bell pepper along with garlic and asparagus. 
Can add tempering of cumin seeds, or mustard seeds or nigella seeds for an different bust of flavors.


Diabetic Platter:
Asparagus is a very low calorie vegetable. 100 g fresh spears give only 20 calories. More calories will be burnt to digest than gained. In addition, the spears contain moderate levels of dietary-fiber. 100 g of fresh spears provide 2.1 g of roughage. Its shoots have long been used in many traditional medicines to treat conditions like dropsy and irritable bowel syndrome.

Asparagus is a very good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.

Fresh asparagus is packed with antioxidants, ranking among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This, according to preliminary research, may help slow the aging process. 


It contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema (an accumulation of fluids in the body's tissues) and those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases.




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