Dubbed as a "feel-good" vegetable because of its potential to support your mood, asparagus is a superfood that I highly recommend as a mainstay in your shopping list. It can be steamed, grilled, stir-fried, or can be used to make the famous comfort food, creamy asparagus soup. But if you're looking for a unique way to cook this nutritionally packed, odd-looking vegetable, I highly recommend serving it with an equally healthy ingredient like fennel.
Try this delicious Roasted Asparagus and Fennel recipe:
Did You Know?
- Asparagus is a nutritionally balanced vegetable that’s low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol, but loaded with vitamins A, E, and K, zinc, magnesium, selenium, fiber, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese
- If you’re looking for a unique way to cook this nutritionally packed (but slightly odd-looking) vegetable, I highly recommend serving it with fennel, like this roasted asparagus and Fennel recipe
- Fennel, a mainstay in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, is a delicious and fragrant vegetable that adds a sweet musky flavor to dishes and is packed with vitamin C, potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, and folate
- 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
- 2 medium oranges, sliced thinly
- 1 medium organic fennel bulb
- 1 cup orange juice
- ¼ cup coconut oil, plus 2 tablespoons
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds,* toasted and crushed in mortar and pestle or spice grinder
- ½ teaspoon honey (optional)
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tablespoon pistachio nuts, chopped
- Preheat oven to 450° Fahrenheit.
- Toss asparagus with the 2 tablespoons of coconut oil and a pinch of salt. Line an oven safe dish with parchment paper and spread the asparagus out in a single layer. Roast until tender, about 8-10 minutes.
- Peel and section oranges over a bowl, to reserve juice.
- Trim brown ends from the fennel bulb and cut vertically into very thin slices.
- To make dressing, bring 1 cup of orange juice to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until juice is reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. When cool, slowly add coconut oil, whisking constantly. When blended, add vinegar, fennel seeds, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk to blend.
- Place oranges and fennel in a large bowl and toss with dressing.
- Serve and garnish with pistachio nuts.
This recipe makes 6 servings.
*Can be found in the spice aisle of the grocery store, health food store, or Indian market.
From Healthy Recipes for Your Nutritional Type
Roasted Asparagus and Fennel Cooking Tips
I've always warned you about the potential dangers lurking in conventional, supermarket-bought fruits and vegetables, particularly their risk of having a high pesticide load. But this typically isn't an issue with asparagus, as it is one of the vegetables with the lowest levels of pesticide residue, making it safe to purchase conventional. In fact, it's included in the "Clean Fifteen" list in the Environmental Working Group's "2015 Shopper's Guide to Pesticides in Produce™" report.1
Regardless of whether you're buying conventional or organic asparagus, make sure that you choose plump and straight "spears" that do not have dry, split, or excessively woody stems – a sign that the asparagus is already old. Thin asparagus spears are tender and sweet, while fatter ones are meatier and have a stronger flavor.
To clean and dry asparagus, TheKitchn.com recommends this method:
"Rinse the spears under cool water to remove any grit. Snap off the bottom inch or so using your fingers; the stems will naturally break where the tough woody part ends and the tender stem begins. Dry the spears by rolling them between two kitchen towels."2
Aside from roasting, like in the recipe above, steaming and poaching asparagus in salted boiling water are also good ways to cook this healthy vegetable. However you choose to prepare it, make sure that it's not undercooked (as it can be tough to chew) or overcooked (leading a mushy outcome). Asparagus is best when tender, but still has a slight bite to it. To check if the asparagus is cooked enough, pierce it with a fork or skewer.
Meanwhile, fennel, a mainstay in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine but still quite unfamiliar to many Americans, is a delicious and fragrant vegetable that adds a sweet musky flavor to dishes. It tastes great with beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes, but also works well with meat and fish, and even when added raw to salads.
Another boon of this vegetable: it's versatile. Every part of fennel, such as the bulb root, leaves, and the seeds, can be used.
When buying fennel, take note that larger bulbs are more tender than the slender, elongated ones. Keep an eye out for glossy bulbs with no signs of bruising, cracking, or browning, and if the stalks are attached, they should be a vibrant, crisp green.3
|Roasted Asparagus and Fennel Nutrition Facts
Why Is Roasted Asparagus and Fennel Good for You?
Asparagus is a nutritionally balanced vegetable that's low in fat, sodium, and cholesterol, but loaded with vitamins A, E, and K, zinc, magnesium, selenium, fiber, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese. Another benefit of this vegetable is it's naturally rich in folate or vitamin B9, which is essential in preventing neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in infants. The folate in asparagus also helps your body produce dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.
Asparagus is also high in glutathione and contains rutin, which helps prevent small blood vessels from rupturing and protects against radiation.
Not to be outdone, fennel is a treasure trove of nutrients, and is loaded with vitamin C (17 percent of the daily value), potassium, calcium, dietary fiber, and folate. Its long, graceful fronds contain niacin, riboflavin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid, while the seeds and bulbs have quercetin, rutin, and kaempferol, antioxidant flavonoids that help resist infection, aging, and degenerative neurological diseases.
A study published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine also demonstrated fennel's health promoting properties.4 Researchers found that eating fennel seeds can have a beneficial effect on the loss of bone mineral density, as well as bone mineral content. They also indicated that fennel seeds show potential in preventing bone loss in postmenopausal osteoporosis.
Other health-promoting ingredients in this recipe include:
Oranges are chockfull of vitamin C, with 165 percent of the recommended daily value in one cup. It also has calcium, potassium, B vitamins, phytochemicals, and flavonoids like zeaxanthin, lutein, beta-carotenes, anthocyanins, and hydroxycinnamic acids.
While this recipe calls for orange juice, I advise you to use freshly squeezed orange juice only, and not the highly processed supermarket varieties that are pre-packed in cartons or bottles. Remember, many popular brands use a chemical process to make juice taste and smell like oranges.
Vinegar that's traditionally made through a long fermentation process is loaded with bioactive components like gallic acid, acetic acid, epicatechin, catechin, and caffeic acid that give it its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and other beneficial properties.
While distilled white vinegar, which is perfectly clear, is excellent for laundry and cleaning, I advise avoiding this and opting for either organic, unfiltered, and unprocessed vinegar (which has a murky appearance) or apple cider vinegar, which is used in this recipe.
Some people believe that nuts are high in fat, and feel guilty indulging in this versatile snack. However, I highly recommend snacking on raw nuts, as they are loaded with healthy fats, plant sterols, fiber, oand vitamins and minerals.
Pistachios are one of the healthiest varieties you can try, as they actually have many health-boosting properties. They have higher levels of lutein, beta-carotene, and gamma-tocopherol (vitamin E) than other nuts, and eating one or two servings per day has been shown to help increase antioxidant blood levels and lower oxidized LDL cholesterol in people with elevated levels.
Sources and References
Tags: Baked, Fruits and Vegetables, Side Dishes