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Wild For Asparagus!

Have you ever gone foraging in your area? As a child, I remember going foraging for so many things! We’ve found wild carrots, berries, asparagus, leeks, and mushrooms, mainly morels, to name a few. Where I grew up in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, exploring the land was about the only thing there was to do. Once, when I was around six years old, I found a couple wild strawberries growing right in my front yard and I remember being so amazed and that I thought it was the coolest thing ever. If you have never gone foraging, I highly recommend it. There are apps you can download onto your phone to help you identify wild plants you find and you may be surprised on what you can find growing wild in your area! 

Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and I love that it is something that we can find growing wild here. It’s so easy to spot the tips growing and they grow everywhere around here and where my mom lives. It’s getting to be the end of their season, however we found a few growing. 

Asparagus is part of the asparagaceae family and the scientific name given to it is asparagus officinalis. It is a perennial plant, meaning it lives for more than two years. Asparagus has many health benefits and supply us with necessary nutrients such as: 

  • Folic acid which necessary for blood cell formation and growth and aides in liver disease prevention
  • Potassium 
  • Fiber
  • Rutin which is a compound that strengthens capillary walls
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Riboflavin
  • Thiamine
  • Iron

Asparagus can help aide in weight loss, improve digestion, anti-inflammatory properties, and lower blood pressure. It can also be very beneficial for pregnancy. In some cultures, the rhizomes and roots of asparagus are actually used to treat urinary tract infections and stones of the bladder and kidneys. A type of wild asparagus (Asparagus racemosus), different from what is found here, actually played a very special role in Ayurvedic medicine development in India about 5,000 years ago.

Asparagus has been around for so many years. It is native to Europe, Africa, and Asia; however it eventually adapted and is now natural in North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. 

What country do you think produces the most asparagus in the world? If you guessed China, you are correct, they have a total production of about seven million metric tons! That’s a whole lot of asparagus! 

The top three states that produce asparagus in the United States are:

  1. California
  2. Washington
  3. Michigan (my home state!)

The most popular asparagus is green, however there is also white and purple variations. Have you ever tried the white and purple? I say I’m going to, but I always forget to pick some up or when I do see it, it doesn’t really go well with any of the dinners I have planned over the next few nights. 

There are many ways to prepare asparagus, my favorite is simply just sautéing in butter, garlic, and topping with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Sometimes, I just simply steam it as well. You can make soups, roast, bake, make asparagus fries, grill, and so much more with asparagus. It is so simple to just finish off a meal with asparagus; add it in with some pasta you made or just sauté it for a fast vegetable side to go with your meat you have made. What is your favorite way to prepare asparagus? Here I have a simple recipe for a perfect side dish that calls for asparagus and potatoes, my two favorites! 

Parmesan Crusted Potatoes and Asparagus:
1-1/2 pounds potatoes, cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit 
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper 
  3. In a medium sized bowl, toss potatoes in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with salt and pepper
  4. Spread on baking sheet in a single layer
  5. Bake 20 minutes
  6. Using the same bowl, toss asparagus with remaining tablespoon of olive oil and salt and pepper
  7. Remove pan from the oven and flip potatoes
  8. Add asparagus to the pan and bake 15 minutes
  9. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese and bake an additional 5 minutes or until cheese is golden brown

When I made this (made with wild asparagus), I added some garlic for more flavor and I didn’t have parmesan cheese because I forgot to check before making it, but it was still delicious! I think it would be a really good side dish with steak! 

Citations:
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=12#historyuse
https://www.newworldencyclopeida.org/entry/Asparagus
https://marisasitaliankitchen.com/parmesan-crusted-potatoes-with-asparagus/

By Jennie Menominee

Hi, I’m Jennie!
I live in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula!
I’m married and a mom to two little girls.
I attended Escoffier online baking and pastry arts for schooling. Food is life and I thoroughly enjoy cooking dinner and desserts for my family.
I’m an animal lover, though currently we only have one dog, a ten year old chihuahua.
I love where I live; I’m so close to the Great Lakes, in fact Huron is within walking distance to my house! I know there’s not much where I’m at, but it’s absolutely beautiful.
One day, I hope to have my own bakery in my hometown, it desperately needs it!

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