Saturday, March 19, 2011

Spring Cleansing With Asparagus

Spring arrives Tomorrow night at 7:21 pm. It's finally here! My seedlings are planted and yearning to get into their permanent home outside, the temperatures reached near 80 degrees yesterday, and my class menus are taking shape for the spring time courses.

When I was in the corporate world, my most favorite time to travel was in the spring. I especially enjoyed going to Europe (specifically, France, Netherlands, Germany and Belgium), because there seemed to be a festival almost every weekend. My favorite time was when the white asparagus was in season. Each restaurant offered their own creations of this delicate beauty.

Asparagus is present in the oldest surviving cookbooks and was cultivated by the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, in ancient times. It was used for both it's nutritional properties as well as it's medicinal qualities. It was known for it's cleansing and healing properties, as it is a wonderful diuretic. Asparagus is low in calories, loaded with folate, potassium, and the stalks contain powerful anti-oxidants.

White asparagus is produced by depriving the young plants of light. They are much more mild than the green relatives and a little sweeter and more tender. Purple asparagus, originating in Italy, is higher in sugar, lower in fiber and well, it's purple. Those crazy, fun Italians!

The growing season, for asparagus is short, mid to late April through mid-summer. In the US, the growing season is longer, but I do prefer the tender spears of spring.

You can enjoy asparagus steamed, grilled, roasted, tossed in salads, made into soups, and added to eggs for a tasty and healthy breakfast. One of my favorite dishes is an asparagus fritatta. It's simple to make, tasty and lacks the extra fat and calories you would find in a quiche. It's the perfect springtime brunch dish. Serve it with fresh fruit and a low fat muffin, a little sparkling water or go all out and have a mimosa!

Enjoy! Chow, Bella's!

Springtime Asparagus Frittata

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