Asparagus makes for an easy side dish to almost any main course. Photograph by Ali Eaves.
Spring is springing all around, so it may be the perfect time to pick up some asparagus. It comes into season locally around April or May, and you can find it at farmers markets throughout Washington. Not only is the vegetable a great source of fiber, but it’s also packed with folic acid, which is an essential nutrient for women in child-bearing years, says nutritionist Faye Berger Mitchell. Asparagus is also high in vitamins C and B6, as well as thiamin, which helps break down sugars.
But cooking the stalks can be tricky—undercooked, they can be tough, and overcooked they’re a shriveled mess. Mitchell says the best way to really enjoy asparagus is to prepare it simply and let the flavor shine.
To take advantage of the veggie’s nutritional benefits, Mitchell created an easy recipe with a sweet and tangy raspberry vinaigrette. The dish can be served hot or cold. “I like to chill the asparagus first and then drizzle on the vinaigrette,” she says.
For a delicious and guilt-free meal, serve the asparagus as a side with salmon or halibut grilled with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon—the raspberry dressing will taste great on the fish, too.
Yield: 4 servings
Calories per serving: 66
1 large bunch asparagus
1½ tablespoons raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
½ tablespoon raspberry fruit spread (like a jam, but with no sugar added—made from 100 percent fruit)
Sea salt (optional)
1) Rinse and trim asparagus.
2) Steam in a vegetable steamer for 2 to 5 minutes until barely tender.
3) Remove from steamer.
4) Whisk remaining ingredients into a vinaigrette and drizzle over asparagus.
5) Finish with sea salt (optional).
Faye Berger Mitchell, RD, LDN, is a nutritionist in private practice in Bethesda. She co-authored Making Nutrition Your Business: Private Practice and Beyond.