If you were stranded on a deserted island and could bring only 1 pantry item with you, what would it be? What is the key ingredient that you just can’t live without? Mine would be good-quality, pure olive oil.
Olive oil is a historic symbol of peace, a great skin & hair moisturizer, and it has been proven to help prevent skin cancer. It aids good digestion and it makes everything taste better. What more would you need on a deserted island? Other than a boat ride home of course.
How do you know if you’re working with good-quality olive oil? First of all it’s not the cheap stuff advertised at 2 for $10. That stuff is cut with canola and other mystery oils and I’m not even sure how they get away calling it “olive oil”. The pure stuff will cost you about $25 for 500 ml and it is worth every penny – especially through the spring/summer harvest. Drizzling your local, in-season produce with pure olive oil and a sprinkle of salt before cooking draws out the best of the natural flavours.
The most important thing to remember as you’re scouring the tables at your local farmers’ market this spring is to keep. it. simple. The beauty of fresh and local ingredients is that they already taste good so they don’t require much effort to be excellent. Asparagus is a prime example of this: cook until tender, elevate with a little flavour punch, add some texture and you’re ready to rock. These are a few of my favourite simple preparations:
However you use it, asparagus tastes great and it is extremely good for you. The green spear is packed with potassium, vitamin A, vitamin K and folate. This means extra helpings for all of my pregos out there! The folate in your asparagus is a natural source of the folic acid supplement that your obstetrician has been recommending to prevent spina bifida, neural tube defects and premature births. Folate is also known to help prevent cancer, muscle inflammation, and heart disease
Since having my thyroid gland recently removed, I have a big focus on maintaining my calcium levels and fighting osteoporosis (bone disease). The levels of vitamin K found in 1 cup of asparagus are greater than any other vegetable to aid in healthy bone formation and repair.
As for the aphrodisiac point, I’m no doctor but the spears do kind of resemble a penis. So much so that the French word for asparagus is “asperge”; asperge is a slang word for penis. Oh, how I love the shamelessness of the French. 🙂
As previously mentioned, you really don’t need to do much to prepare a bunch of asparagus. 1) wash, 2) snap off the bottom 1½ to 2 inches of woody stems and discard them, 3) drizzle with pure olive oil & seasoning and 4) cook over a hot space. Do I need to mention step 5? Enjoy!
Let’s face it, cheese is good. You really can’t go wrong by melting most types of cheese on a green vegetable such as asparagus. Personally though, I like to pair the mild earthiness of asparagus with a sharp, full-bodied cheese like Parmesan. A dash of lemon juice or zest, garlic, chopped shallots, and hot pepper also work in creating that perfect bite.
Now, let’s get puffy. This time of year, my freezer is bordered by boxes of puff pastry. It is the perfect ingredient for effortlessly impressing guests and making local produce get fancy.
Here is your spring-time assignment: explore the deliciously healthy benefits of local asparagus and create your own speciality. Remember to keep it simple, balance your flavours and have fun with texture. Enjoy! xo
P.S. Wedding season is here and a big bottle of pure olive oil is the perfect wedding gift. I’m not kidding, it represents peace and prosperity and is so versatile in every kitchen – no matter the culture or cuisine. I’ve become a giant fan of the olive oil imported by Sarafino Inc. This is a family owned and operated business that know and adore their oil. Check out www.sarafino.com and be sure to reach out with any questions; they’re always happy to discuss the benefits of real olive oil.
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