Asparagus, perennial garden vegetable (Asparagus officinalis) of the family Liliaceae (lily family), native to the E Mediterranean area and now naturalized over much of the world. With its uniquely delicate flavor and texture, asparagus is the quintessential "luxury" vegetable. Enjoy it in season, when the price goes down: Asparagus contains a good supply of folate (folic acid), as well as some vitamin C and, in green asparagus, some beta-carotene. Asparagus also contains the phytochemical glutathione, which has antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.


Keep fresh asparagus cold to preserve its tenderness and as much of its natural sweetness as possible. Wrap the stalk bottoms in a damp paper towel and store in the refrigerator crisper; if you don't have a crisper, put the spears in a plastic bag and store in the coldest part of the refrigerator. It's best to eat asparagus the day you buy it--the flavor can diminish noticeably with each passing day--but it will keep for four to five days if refrigerated.

Sesame Asparagus Salad

3/4 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch lengths
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon lightly toasted sesame seeds

Steam asparagus 3-5 minutes until tender/crisp.  Drain and rinse in cold water, drain and place in a shallow bowl.

Mix remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds.  Pour sauce over the asparagus.  Chill for several hours, stirring occasionally.  Mix before serving and sprinkle with sesame seeds.