Behold the amazing asparagus! Just a half-cup of it cooked contains over 80 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for vitamin C, and about 25 percent of the RDA for folic acid. (Folic acid helps prevent birth defects and is important for the formation of blood cells.) It also contains vitamin A, vitamin B6 and potassium, and is a good source of fiber and glutathione, a powerful antioxidant. It has no fat or cholesterol, and one serving (about five spears) of the green variety contains only 20 calories.
Asparagus can be prepared in a number of ways. Unlike some vegetables, it’s just as nutritious either raw or cooked. And if you make the following healthy recipe, you’ll bring elegance to your table, along with good health:
Asparagus Rolls Serves 4
- 1 lb. fresh asparagus
- 4 slices Swiss cheese
- 4 slices thinly sliced deli ham or turkey, or prosciutto
- 4 T. butter, melted
- 1 C. dried whole wheat or regular bread crumbs
- ½ C. grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Cook asparagus in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove, and drain.
- Layer a slice of cheese on top of a slice of ham, then place 3 to 4 asparagus spears on top of the cheese slice.
- Roll the ham and cheese over the asparagus, and secure with a toothpick. Repeat with remaining ham, cheese and asparagus.
- Place all the rolls in a casserole dish; then pour melted butter over the entire dish.
- Sprinkle with bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the crumb mixture forms a crust.
When buying fresh, look for stems that are firm and fairly straight, with well-formed, tightly closed tips. Contrary to common belief, the width of the stem is not an indication of tenderness — thin or thick stems can be equally delicious. Just be sure the stalks are similar in size so they all cook at the same rate, as it only takes a few minutes for the stalks to become crisp-tender. Don’t overcook or you’ll end up with mush.