Nothing says spring quite like asparagus. Those green stalks are a sure sign that fresh food is on the way! But get yourself to the market quickly, because this veggie is only in season for a very short time.
Did you know you can eat asparagus raw? It’s a wonderful way to enjoy this seasonal vegetable, as asparagus will retain many of the vitamins and minerals that would otherwise be lost in the cooking process. The flavor of raw asparagus is slightly earthier than when it's cooked, and the texture is crisp and fresh.
A great way to enjoy raw asparagus is in this Asparagus Ribbon Salad. First, the asparagus stalks are shaved into very thin strips that become almost pastalike in their texture. And the marinade I created helps break down some of the starches in the stalks, making the asparagus soft and almost creamy.
Asparagus: the Awesome Stalk
Asparagus is a powerhouse vegetable, another reason why eating it raw is such a good idea! Its high amounts of vitamin C, carotene, and selenium protect against cancer. Asparagus also contains high amounts of histones, folic acid, and nucleic acid, all of which stimulate the immune system.
Other incredible benefits of asparagus, eaten cooked or raw, are the “prebiotic” properties that its special fibers possess. Inulin is a unique type of carbohydrate that doesn’t break down in the first part of our digestive tract, so it can travel all the way to the large intestine where it provides food for certain types of friendly bacteria. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria supporting probiotic life (associated with better nutrient absorption and lower risks of allergies and colon cancer). You may notice that some probiotic supplements actually contain prebiotics to enhance their function, but eating a serving of asparagus is a whole food-based way of obtaining these special fibers.There was an error displaying this gallery.
Asparagus Ribbon Salad
1 bunch fresh asparagus, rinsed, stems and tips removed
2 cups arugula
¼ cup hazelnuts, roasted and roughly chopped
Pecorino Romano, for serving (optional)
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp liquid honey
1 shallot, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Using a vegetable peeler, start from the top of the spear, and gently shave downward, to create a thin ribbon. Continue until you only have a small piece of the spear left, then run a small paring knife down the middle to separate. Slice all of the tips in half, lengthwise. (Don’t worry about being perfect; it's meant to be rustic!) Transfer the asparagus ribbons in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Combine dressing ingredients in a jar covered with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine. Taste to adjust seasoning. Toss asparagus with the dressing until fully coated. Let marinate for 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Toss the marinated asparagus with the arugula (it will still take on some of the dressing).
4. Sprinkle the asparagus-arugula mixture with the hazelnuts and many grinds of fresh black pepper (it really adds a lot to this dish!). Top with a few shavings of Pecorino Romano, if using. Serve.
Sarah Britton is a holistic nutritionist, vegetarian chef, and the creator of the award-winning blog My New Roots. Sarah is currently a chef at three organic restaurants in Copenhagen, Denmark, where she has earned praise for her creative and adventurous recipes. A Certified Nutritional Practitioner, she is also the founder of New Roots Holistic Nutrition, where she educates others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.