Asparagus faces relatively fewer threats from pests and diseases, so the level of pesticides needed for healthy growth is not very high. This puts asparagus into the top fifteen ‘clean’ vegetables with the lowest pesticide residue.
Those who are endeavouring to encourage friendly bacteria in the gut may like to know that asparagus has been found to contain inulin, a unique type of carbohydrate called a polyfructan. Unlike most other carbohydrates, inulin doesn’t get broken down in the first sections of our digestive tract, but passes undigested all the way to the large intestine. Once it arrives at our large intestine, it becomes an ideal food source for certain types of bacteria, like Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, that are associated with better nutrient absorption and gut health.
Asparagus does have a tendency to perish quite quickly, causing it to lose water, wrinkle, and harden. By wrapping the ends of the asparagus in a damp paper or cloth towel, you can help prolong life during refrigerator storage.
I love asparagus lightly steamed and tossed into salads. It works with any combination of vegetables, but particularly good with avocado, tomato, red onion. Here is a rather nice recipe to roast asparagus with salmon from the BBC Good Food website, which I slightly adapted.
To serve two:
- 400g new potatoes, halved if large
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 8 asparagus spears, trimmed and halved
- 2 handfuls cherry tomatoes
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 salmon fillets, about 140g/5oz each
- handful basil leaves
- Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Tip the potatoes and 1 tbsp of olive oil into an ovenproof dish, then roast the potatoes for 20 mins until starting to brown. Toss the asparagus in with the potatoes, then return to the oven for 15 mins.
- Throw in the cherry tomatoes and lemon juice and nestle the salmon amongst the vegetables. Drizzle with the remaining oil and return to the oven for a final 10-15 mins until the salmon is cooked. Scatter over the basil leaves and serve everything scooped straight from the dish.