Besides warmer temperatures, fresh produce is another perk of spring and summer. One of the first locally grown items to arrive in Meijer stores is Michigan asparagus, and it usually arrives in late May to early June. Learn more about these tender green stalks and how to prepare them. The season is short, so take advantage of it!
Did You Know?
- Approximately 120 Michigan farmers produce 20 million pounds of Asparagus during the state’s six-to-seven-week harvest.
- Michigan ranks second in the nation for asparagus production thanks to its unique, sandy loam soil.
- Asparagus has a low pesticide load and is one of the safest conventionally grown crops to consume because of its short and early harvest season.
- Asparagus supplies a good source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, and vitamin B6. It has very little sodium and is also an excellent source of folic acid.
- A 5.3 ounce serving of asparagus has only 20 calories.
- Larger diameter spears are more tender.
Shopping and Storing
When you shop for asparagus, look for firm spears with closed, compact tips. They should also be uniform in diameter, so all spears cook in the same amount of time. If you’re not planning to prepare the asparagus right away, make sure to keep them clean, cold and covered. Trim the stem ends about one-fourth inch and wash the spears in warm water several times. Pat the asparagus dry and place them in a moisture-proof wrapping. Refrigerate the asparagus and use them within two or three days.
To maintain freshness, wrap a moist paper towel around the stem ends, or stand them upright in two inches of cold water.
Ways to Enjoy Asparagus
Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange asparagus spears in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over asparagus and turn to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast, turning occasionally, until lightly browned and just tender, 18-20 minutes. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar if desired.
Preheat grill to medium hot. Place asparagus over direct heat at a right angle to the grid of the grill. Grill asparagus with the lid on until they are browned slightly on one side (approximately five minutes). Roll asparagus and grill for two to three minutes on the second side.
Pesto Chicken Pasta with Asparagus
Makes 6 servings
- 8 ounces uncooked farfalle (bowtie) pasta
- 2 cups cut-up fresh or frozen Michigan Asparagus
- 2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
- 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/3 cup chopped red onion
- 1 (2.25 ounces) can sliced ripe olives, well drained
- 3/4 cup prepared pesto sauce
- 3 tablespoons freshly shredded or grated Romano cheese
- Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain.
- Steam or microwave Michigan Asparagus until crisp-tender.
- Drain and combine in a large bowl with cooked pasta.
- Stir in chicken, tomatoes, onion, and olives.
- Gently toss with pesto sauce.
- Serve warm, garnished with cheese.
Source: Michigan Asparagus