April showers not only bring tulips and daffodils, but an abundance of fresh, local asparagus. Even though they are available year round, asparagus is at its best – and usually cheapest – from April through June.
This elegant edible got its name from the Greek word, asparagos, meaning ‘sprout’ or ‘shoot’ and is a member of the lily family. Initially, planting is a slow process, as asparagus require at least a two-year growth period before harvesting. The good news is that they continue to reproduce anywhere from 15 to 20 years before being replanted. During their peak, asparagus are capable of growing an incredible 10 – 12 inches in one day! A single day’s growth, which is approximately one acre, is what’s usually harvested, and mainly by hand.
Asparagus is packed with nutrients that may actually help remedy some ailments. It’s high in folic acid, vitamins A and C, and low in sodium and calories. Its detoxifying and diuretic effects help rid the body of excess water. And its high fiber content aids the body in digestion.
The most common types of asparagus are green. White asparagus are grown void of direct sunlight, which prevents them from turning green. They are popular in Europe – especially France and Belgium. Choose firm, bright green stalks and closed, compact tips. Avoid asparagus that are limp or with yellowing, wrinkled stalks.
Usually you will find asparagus sold in bunches secured with rubber bands. Before storing, be sure to remove the rubber band as it can bruise the stalks. Keep them in the refrigerator in a food storage bag with their ends wrapped in a damp paper towel. And be sure to cook them within a day or two for the very best flavor. Whether they’re fat and thick or pencil-thin, it’s important to trim the woody ends. Paula’s favorite method is to bend the asparagus about halfway down the stalk. The tough, woody part of the stem will break off in just the right place. For a cleaner look, you can trim off the ends with a knife and peel just the bottom part of the stalk.
Grilled, steamed, roasted, or sautéed, Paula has quick and easy ideas for cooking up asparagus. Asparagus with Sesame Citrus Sauce combines Asian flavors and tangy citrus – add some shrimp or chicken and you’ve got a main-dish in minutes. If entertaining is on the menu, Paula’s Fresh Asparagus and Curry Dip, with just 5 ingredients, is the perfect finger food. Feed a crowd with our Grilled Vegetable Pasta Salad, a colorful combination of grilled asparagus, bell peppers, tomatoes, basil, and cooked penne pasta tossed in Paula’s Vidalia Onion Peppercorn dressing. Got leftovers? Try The Lady and Sons Asparagus Sandwich – grilled pumpernickel layered with asparagus, slices of sweet red onion, melted Jack cheese, and Thousand Island dressing – a delicious way to use leftover asparagus. So take a little time to enjoy this versatile vegetable and discover why asparagus is the king of spring.Read More From What's in Season.
My Recipe Box | Log in to view
Inspired by her early days of selling lunches as The Bag Lady, Paula Deen will host a Box Lunch to End Hunger, presented by The Bag Lady Foundation, Springer Mountain Farms, and Hoffman Media. This grab-and-go lunch event will be held at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens on Tuesday, September 16 from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. For a $15 donation at the door (no advanced tickets), guests will receive a box lunch prepared by Edgar’s Bakery featuring Springer Mountain Farms chicken and Golden Flake potato chips, and have the opportunity to meet Paula Deen. Grab these delicious boxed lunches and take them back to your office or share with a friend or neighbor. One hundred percent of proceeds will be donated to the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama, which serves 12 counties in our area. For the price of one lunch, 135 meals or 65 pounds of food can be distributed to the food insecure in our area.
“Since September is Hunger Action Month, the timing of this event couldn’t be more perfect,” says Brian Hart Hoffman, Chief Creative Officer at Hoffman Media. “Paula Deen’s dedication to helping those in need and positively impacting people’s lives every day makes this event ideal for getting our community involved in the fight to end hunger in Central Alabama.”
Each guest will be entered into a raffle to win front-row seats to the Paula Deen Live! show at the Alabama Theatre the same evening.
Sponsors for Paula Deen’s Box Lunch to End Hunger include Golden Flake and Edgar’s Bakery.
The Birmingham Botanical Gardens are located at 2612 Lane Park Road Birmingham, AL 35223.
Come see Paula’s live show at the Times Union Center for Performing Arts in Jacksonville, FL and get a heaping helping of Paula’s recipes, and some good old-fashioned fun and laughter!
Tickets available from Ticketmaster here!
Sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms.
Join Paula at DuBois Furniture in Waco, TX for a book signing and meet and greet from 10:30 am to 1:30 pm.