This refreshingly light salad is easy to make and transport to lunch at work or school.
As summer ends and many of us all start getting ready for the school year, it is great to have a simple, satisfying option like this in your back pocket. It is nice for a light weekday meal or an easy lunch for your family to take to work or school.
All About Asparagus
Asparagus is a delicious springtime vegetable, known for its slim, spear-like shape. The name comes from the Greek word “asparagos,” which means “to spring up.” It’s one of the first green vegetables to arrive after winter ends, and plenty of people consider it a true delicacy.
This popular vegetable comes in a variety of colors, including green, white and purple. It’s used in dishes around the world, including frittatas, pastas and stir-fries. Asparagus is also low in calories and packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Why is Asparagus So Good For You?
Asparagus is low in calories and a great source of nutrients, including fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and K. Additionally, eating asparagus has a number of potential health benefits, including improved digestion, healthy pregnancy outcomes, and lower blood pressure.
Just half a cup of asparagus contains 1.8 grams of fiber, which is 7% of your recommended daily needs. As a good source of fiber, asparagus promotes regularity and digestive health and may help reduce your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.
Notably, asparagus also contains chromium, a trace mineral that may enhance the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells—That's good news if you're watching your blood glucose levels.
Buying and Cooking Tips
Asparagus is a vegetable available year-round with peak availability in spring. When you buy asparagus fresh from the farmers' market or grocery store, it's best to eat it right away.
When shopping for fresh asparagus, look for firm stems and tight, closed tips. Avoid stalks that appear limp or wilted. Asparagus should be rich in green color, softly fading to white at the bottom of the stalk. Avoid those dull in color, as this indicates the asparagus is passed its freshness.
Asparagus comes in several sizes, ranging in diameter from thinner than a drinking straw to fatter than your thumb. If you're shopping at a farmers' market, you might be able to ask the seller to put together a bundle of stalks that are the same size.
Thin, tender spears can be sautéed, steamed, or rubbed lightly with olive oil and grilled. Fatter asparagus spears will need to be trimmed and either steamed or boiled in order to be tender.
To preserve the antioxidants, try roasting, grilling, or sautéing your asparagus. These quick-cooking, waterless methods will preserve the fabulous nutritional content and antioxidant power of asparagus.
You can also purchase canned asparagus, which is precooked and ready to eat.
How to Store Asparagus
Asparagus is a “one-night-only” type of vegetable — it doesn't store well, and it usually doesn't make for great leftovers. For the freshest flavor, try to buy and eat asparagus on the same day.
If you do plan to store it in your refrigerator for a few days after you get it home, treat it like a bouquet of flowers: Trim a small amount from the bottoms of the stalks with a sharp knife and place them in a big jar with a little water in the bottom. Cover the top loosely with a plastic bag, and store in the refrigerator. Change the water daily. This will help keep the stalks firm and crisp for a few days until you are ready to cook them.
You can also wrap the trimmed asparagus ends with a damp paper towel and store the stalks in a plastic bag.
Don’t Forget the Chickpeas
Chickpeas, which are also known as the garbanzo bean, are classified as a legume. They come from a plant and grow two to three to a pod. However, chickpeas are considered to be both a vegetable and a protein because they’re so nutritious.
When versatile foods come up in conversation, chickpeas might not be the first thing that comes to mind. However, these plant-based foods pack a nutritional punch. Chickpeas are what’s contain all nine essential amino acids of protein, which are the building blocks that help our bodies function properly.
In addition, chickpeas are also brimming with vitamins and minerals. These include choline, which helps your brain and nervous system run smoothly, as well as folate, magnesium, potassium and iron. For good measure, chickpeas are also high in vitamin A, E and C.
Asparagus Cucumber Onion Salad with Beans
- 1 cup fresh asparagus (white, green, or a mixture) cut in 2" pieces
- 1 medium English cucumber thinly sliced
- 2 medium scallions (or green onions) sliced on a diagonal
- 1/4 cup cilantro chopped
- 1 head Boston lettuce
- 1 1/2 cup chickpeas
- 1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1 lemon's juice
- 1 tbsp fresh chives chopped
- For the dressing mix together the rice vinegar, soy sauce and lemon juice and set aside.
- In a large bowl combine the asparagus, cucumber, scallion, cilantro, chickpeas and lettuce.
- Pour the dressing over the vegetable mixture and mix well.
- Top with chives.