April 12, 2011

Asparagus for All of Us!

{The following are two of Rachel Brownlee's eagerly anticipated asparagus recipes; one for the kosher folks, the other for those who dig the pig.  Asparagus is a great nutrition source this time of year because it's actually in season in the Southeastern states in the spring.  You can read all about asparagus's riches of vitamins, minerals, and fiber at Rachel's blog over here and at the end of this post.  Thanks for a fun collaboration, Rachel!  I'm the healthier for it.}

Simple Grilled Asparagus with Lemon and Fleur de Sel:
*1 bunch freshly harvested asparagus
*1 teaspoon olive oil
*zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
*2 cloves garlic, minced
*1 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted high quality butter
*high quality Fleur de Sel or favorite special sea salt
*freshly ground black pepper
* freshly grated parmigiano reggiano for garnish

This recipe is simple but unbeatable. Pure spring.
Rinse asparagus. Remove any woody portions from bottom ends. Chop each shoot in half.
Place a grill pan over medium heat. Coat with olive oil. Grill asparagus for about 4-5 minutes turning occasionally until bright green and tender. Transfer to a large bowl. 
Gently toss with remaining ingredients while asparagus is still warm. Adjust seasonings to taste. Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with freshly shaved parmigiano reggiano. 

Grilled Asparagus with Pancetta and Local Jersey Milk Feta:
*1 bunch freshly harvested asparagus
*olive oil for grilling
*1/4 cup crumbled local sheep or cow milk feta
*1/4 pound thick slice pancetta, cubed
*black pepper

Rinse asparagus. Chop shoots in half.
Place a grill pan over medium heat. Coat with olive oil. Meanwhile, heat a separate pan over medium heat and add cubed pancetta, stirring occasionally until golden and crispy. Remove from pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
Begin grilling asparagus while searing pancetta, turning once or twice until slightly tender.
Transfer to a serving plate. Sprinkle with the feta, pancetta and freshly ground black pepper.

Asparagus facts:
One of the oldest known cookbooks from the third century, De re conquinaria, contains a recipe for asparagus. Its diuretic properties have been praised since early times for medicinal use. The list of minerals and vitamins found in asparagus is long including: vitamins A, B6 C, E and K, calcium, magnesium, zinc, niacin, folicacid, riboflavin, iron, potassium, phosphorus, copper, and selenium.
Asparagus is notably high in dietary fiber as well as protein. Special to asparagus is a property known as chromium which has been shown to enhance insulin's ability to deliver glucose to the body's cells from the bloodstream.

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