SOS April Ingredient Reveal!

It’s April–which means the cruelest month  love is in the air another SOS Kitchen Challenge!

This month, with so many of us thinking about spring and green shoots finally making their way toward the sky, Kim and I have chosen an ingredient that is itself a harbinger of spring.  With its lively green hue and tender, pine cone-like tops, this veggie is often enjoyed even by those who don’t otherwise consume many veggies.  Our happy ingredient this month happens to be

ASPARAGUS!

When asparagus hits the grocery stores and markets around this part of the world, we know spring is just around the corner. And who doesn’t love spring? :D

Available in most places from April to May (though much earlier in California and much later in the midwest), asparagus is beloved by many as a special treat.

Actually part of the Lily family, asparagus is available in three varieties: green (the type with which most people are familiar), white, which is grown underground to inhibit the chlorophyll and thereby prevent any color from developing; and purple, which is much smaller and more delicate than the standard type.

Perhaps part of its elite appeal is the fact that asparagus is more perishable than many other vegetables; it stays fresh only a few days, and, in fact, begins to lose its antioxidant value more quickly than other veggies.  The best way to store asparagus to keep it fresh is to place the cut ends in a little bit of fresh water; I stand my bunch of asparagus upright in an empty (clean) large yogurt container or glass jar, with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water in the bottom.  I invert a plastic veggie bag (usually the one it came in) gently over the spears for storage.  It will keep a couple of days this way.

All three varieties of the vegetable contain compounds called saponins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. It’s also one of the few foods that contains inulin, known as a “pre-biotic” because it feeds the healthy bacteria (probiotics) in our intestines, thereby encouraging a healthy digestive tract, immune system, and regular elimination (other sources of inulin are chicory, yacon and both onions and garlic).

With its high fiber content, asparagus is a great aid to digestion.  It’s also an excellent source of folic acid and Vitamin K (essential for healthy blood and bones) and is a  good source of other B-vitamins. The high amount of Vitamin A (just 6 spears provide 25% of the daily requirement) is great for healthy skin; and it’s also a mild diuretic, which means it can help to reduce swelling or other conditions in which one retains water (such as PMS). Finally, it also helps to detox the body with antioxidants like glutathione (important for liver function). And let’s not forget that it tastes delicious and often appeals to folks who don’t otherwise enjoy their veggies!

Most of us think of asparagus as a savory ingredient, used in classic dishes like quiche or risotto, above–and of course it’s delicious that way! But it’s also great shredded, raw, in salads; creamed in soups; or grilled.  And if you can think of a tasty sweet use for this vegetable, you’ll get an extra-special mention in this month’s SOS Roundup! ;)

How to Participate:  To play along with this month’s challenge,  simply cook up a new recipe–either sweet OR savory (or both)–using asparagus.

Be sure to follow the general SOS guidelines for ingredients and submission requirements (please be sure to read the guidelines before submitting! We hate to remove links, but we will do so if they don’t comply with the general guidelines).  You may submit your own recipe or one you found on a website or blog (even one of ours). Then link up your recipe via the linky tool at the bottom of this post, or any of the other SOS: Asparagus posts that I publish this month.  Be sure to also add a link to this page on your post, and if you wish, include the SOS logo.

Your recipe will be displayed on both Kim’s and my blog via the Linky, and will be featured in a recipe roundup at the end of this month.  As always, we look forward to more of your innovative, delectable, enthusiastic entries this month!

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Comments

  1. I think I will have to sit on the sidelines for this one – asparagus is far disappearing from the shops over our side of the world – but hope to get some great ideas for when spring comes around

    my contribution will have to be a comment on it: I always remember Barbara Kingsolver describing its life cycle in animal vegetable miracle – great reading if you haven’t read it already

  2. Asparagus definitely hails spring has arrived. We’ll see if I pick up some this month or not… but definitely high fives for anyone who makes it into a sweet dish. :)

  3. oh my! I was just hit with a brainstorm- this is going to be so much fun :)

  4. Yay! Something I won’t screw up this time! I am very interested to see if anyone can turn asparagus into something sweet.

  5. I’m interested to see what everyone comes up with! I’m not too comfortable cooking with asparagus, though I love to eat it! My mom is great with it but my stalks always come out soggy or limp. =(

  6. I bought a bunch that looked really nice. When I cooked some of it, it was bitter. Is there any way to save the rest of it? Any trick to picking out a good bunch?

    • You know, I’ve never had that problem. I’ve read that it can be related to the type of pot or chemical interactions between cooking substance and vegetable. I’d try grilling it or even pan-frying it instead and see how that works (just a guess).

  7. Woo asparagus! Love it! Great choice of ingredient, hmmm Im already thinking about what I could enter… Can’t wait to see the recipes.

    Teenie Foodie

  8. I LOVE asparagus – I think it’s pretty much my favourite vegetable. I’m excited to start scheming about new dishes to make with it…

  9. Oh, I hope those good asparagus prices hit soon! I just saw a wonderful asparagus recipe that I’m dying to try. Looking forward to all of the creations!

  10. I’m still waiting for asparagus to come in season here. I prefer to eat it roasted, usually plain (but usually with truffle oil).

    Jerusalem artichokes are another good – and delicious – source of inulin!

  11. Bought the asparagus, cooked it, and almost didn’t get a picture it went so fast; and (blush) I’m the only one eating it. Next week Brother Chaz will be here so then I will have to share!

  12. So many amazing asparagus recipes for April, from soup to biscuits to chutney to salad and more! This is wonderful! I’ve added Pan-Grilled Asparagus, Garlic and Parsley, one of the quickest and simplest methods to cook it.

  13. Oh no, I missed the linky, though it is only 11pm on teh due date (can you tell I was the kind of student who handed in papers the hour they were due – yes, I know, it’s bad)…. anyways, here is the link to my recipe: http://www.citylifeeats.com/2011/04/brown-rice-risotto-with-asparagus.html

  14. I love asparagus but didn’t know all the health benefits so thanks for sharing those. :) I think I’ll try and find some this weekend.

Trackbacks

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  3. [...] which also happens to be the star ingredient in this month’s SOS Kitchen Challenge! Check out Ricki or Kim‘s blogs for more vegan recipes with asparagus. Asparagus is elegant and flavourful, [...]

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