Let The Flavor of Springtime Asparagus Shine Through With This Simple and Healthy Dijon Mustard Sauce Recipe
Note from Matt: Today’s post is dedicated to the memory of my Grandmother, Doris Williams, who had her own asparagus patch and taught me everything I know about preparing and eating this amazing vegetable. Grandma, I just ate my first asparagus of the spring … seven beautiful stalks I plucked out from the among the weeds in the side yard at your old house. Yes … they still come up each year. You are missed.
Nothing says “spring is here” like a bowl of fresh steamed asparagus. We’re not talking about the bland stuff that’s shipped in from California during the winter — this is the real deal, in season, in all of it’s sublime glory.
Crisp, slightly sweet and never tough or chewy, asparagus is one of the first vegetables to make it’s way onto the table in the spring, and if you’re lucky enough to have a u-pick farm nearby, or even your own asparagus patch, once you’ve had asparagus in-season, it’s hard to ever get used to the store-bought stuff again.
The Health Benefits of Asparagus
And asparagus is wicked good for you.
It’s an extremely nutrient dense food. It’s high in folic acid and is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. It also has no cholesterol or fat, and is low in sodium and calories.
A single 5.2 oz serving of asparagus provides 60% of your daily requirement of folicin (folic acid), which is critical for blood cell formation, growth, and prevention of liver disease.
Folic acid is critical during period of rapid cell growth and division, such as infancy and pregnancy, and research indicates a link between insufficient folic acid and birth defects, like neural tube defects. Folic acid also may decrease circulating homocysteine levels. There is evidence that elevated homocysteine levels are an independent risk factor for heart disease and stroke. A recent study from the University of California – Berkeley also found that men who eat folate rich foods may also lower the risk of birth defects in offspring, since folate seems to prevent certain chromosome abnormalities in sperm.
In other words, if you’re not eating asparagus, it’s time to start.
Why Does Eating Asparagus Make Your Pee Stink?
Asparagus contains sulfur compounds that give off the distinct “asparagus pee” odor when broken down by the body (usually within 15-30 minutes after ingestion.) Believe it or not, there is actually a raging scientific debate over what the actual compound is that’s responsible for this unique “scent.” One theory says it’s methanethiol. However, in 1975, a California chemist using gas chromatography claimed that the offending compounds are actually S-methyl thioesters. One interesting point: while all people produce these stinky compounds, only but only about 40% of the population have the autosomal genes required to smell them.
A Simple, Delicious Asparagus Recipe That’s Ready In Five Minutes
This particular recipe for preparing asparagus is so simple, that you’ll be surprised at how good it tastes based on the little time it takes to prepare and the limited ingredient list. Asparagus is almost always best served with a very simple sauce, since you want the flavor of the asparagus to take center stage — not the sauce that it’s swimming in.
Dijon mustard is a natural partner for asparagus, since the “bite” in Dijon mustard has a tendency to make the asparagus actually taste sweeter, and tones down some of the stronger, more bitter flavors that can sometimes accompany this vegetable (the fresher the asparagus, the less bitterness it typically has.) And because Dijon mustard is packed with flavor, but not calories, it adds almost nothing in terms of additional calories to the dish.
Even better, this recipe can be prepared in about 5-6 minutes.
How To Cook Perfect Asparagus
Remember, asparagus should only be cooked until it is bright green and crisp-tender, not until it’s a mess of Army green mush. Tender means that you can poke a fork into a stalk and it will give way slightly. It should not be limp or soft. Most people overcook this vegetable, which makes even the freshest asparagus take on a stringy texture. Overcooked asparagus is also one of the reasons why people sometimes don’t like it. So even if you’ve had a bad experience with asparagus, try this recipe and see if you change your mind.
Steamed Asparagus with Dijon Mustard Sauce
Recipe makes four, 4 oz servings
1 lb fresh asparagus
2 tsp Dijon Mustard, such as Grey Poupon or Maille
Salt and Pepper to taste
- Wash and trim any tough ends on the asparagus.
- Place the asparagus in a steamer, or in a sauce pan with a 1/4 to 1/2 of water in the bottom. If the stalks won’t fit intact, break them in half.
- Steam or boil over high heat until the asparagus turns bright green and is tender-crisp when a fork is inserted in the stalk, about 3-5 minutes.
- If boiling, drain the water and add the Dijon mustard, gently tossing the asparagus in the pan until well coated.
- If the asparagus was steamed, transfer to a bowl and toss the asparagus with the Dijon mustard until it is uniformly coated.
- Season to taste with sea salt and ground pepper.
Serving Size: 4 oz (113 grams)
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat: 0.2 g
Saturated Fat: 0.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 62.3 mg
Potassium: 309.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate: 5.1 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.4 g
Sugars: 0.0 g
Protein: 2.6 g
Vitamin A 13.2 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 7.4 %
Vitamin C 24.9 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 11.3 %
Calcium 2.4 %
Copper 10.0 %
Folate 36.2 %
Iron 5.5 %
Magnesium 5.1 %
Manganese 14.8 %
Niacin 6.6 %
Pantothenic Acid 2.0 %
Phosphorus 6.3 %
Riboflavin 8.5 %
Selenium 3.7 %
Thiamin 10.6 %
Zinc 3.5 %