Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Herb of the Week: Asparagus

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)
Like so many of our food plants and culinary herbs, asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is a plant that offers us something for our dinner plate as well as being an herb with medicinal uses. It is the earliest cultivated food item that I harvest each spring. Surely our ancestors appreciated that and it may be part of the reason why this plant has been harvested for more than 5,000 years.

Yesterday I harvested the first asparagus of the season. They are so good and so fresh, I always munch a few spears before I even get the bag to the house. Because this early vegetable is so tasty and so nutritious, rather than speak of the medicinal or other herbal qualities of this plant or the other species in the Asparagus genus*, I will share a simple recipe that I'm sure you will love as much as I:

Grilled Asparagus

Fresh asparagus spears
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Wash and drain asparagus well. Snap tough ends off.
  2. Preheat broiler or grill - this recipe will work with either method. I usually do them under the broiler. 
  3. Arrange on a sheet pan in a single layer. Drizzle with olive oil (approx. 1-2 tbsp. for 1 lb. bunch). Roll spears around to coat evenly with oil. 
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
  5. Put pan under the broiler or lay spears directly on your grill. Cook until bright green and done to your preference. Flip half way through cooking. 
  6. Optional: Use other seasonings for different tastes - lemon pepper, garlic salt, etc.
This recipe is naturally gluten free, lactose free, and vegan.

* There are other edible and medical members of the Asparagus genus. To learn more about them, search for "asparagus" at Plants for a Future Database.