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Grilled Asparagus & Sweet Potato with Chimichurri

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Grilled AsparagusLocally-grown asparagus is finally available here in Ontario! As an asparagus afficionado, I’m super-excited. My parents used to grow asparagus in their garden and I have fond memories of my mom making the most scrumptious asparagus tarts with béchamel sauce and Swiss cheese. I’m too lazy a cook to make pastry and béchamel myself but I do enjoy dining on asparagus as often as possible while it is in season.

And one of my favourite ways to serve these verdant spears is grilled and drizzled with a garlicky dressing chock full of fresh herbs. This recipe for Grilled Asparagus & Sweet Potato with Chimichurri fits the bill.

If you aren’t a fan of sweet potato, feel free to omit it or use any other vegetable suitable for grilling.  Bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini or eggplant work well. I also really enjoy grilling bitter wedges of radicchio and cauliflower “steaks”. If you don’t have a grill, this can be just as easily prepared with a grill pan over the stove or roasted in the oven.

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for Grilled Asparagus & Sweet Potato with Chimichurri. And read on for more about…

  • how awesome asparagus is for the health of your microbiome and gut, and
  • the gazillion ways you can use chimichurri and turn this recipe into a full meal deal.

But first, I thought you (and any of my family reading this and nostalgic for my mom’s cooking) might also enjoy the recipe for my mom’s Asparagus Tarts with Béchamel Sauce. Let me know if you make them. I can be over lickety-split. 😉

Gut bugs love asparagus as much as I do

Gut bugs love asparagus as much as I do. You see, asparagus is a prebiotic. And prebiotics are the fiber-rich foods that probiotics (i.e. the live beneficial bacteria that promote gut health) feed and grow on.

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Grilled AsparagusIt is important to keep our gut bugs well-fed and happy because they do a lot for us. In fact, it would be very difficult to survive without them. They help digest food, synthesize certain vitamins and are important to our immune system. These bugs also help our bodies filter and appropriately absorb nutrients from what we eat. As an added bonus, when probiotics break down prebiotic foods in the colon, butyric acid is produced. This is the preferred fuel for the cells that line the colon and it acidifies the environment too, making it harder for harmful bacteria to survive.

On the flipside, if you don’t give your gut bugs enough to munch on, they will compensate by eating away at the mucus lining of your gut. This is not good news for you as it increases your susceptibility to infections and chronic inflammatory diseases. Check out Step 5 of my blog post Food for Thought: How Best to Feed Your Brain for more on feeding your microbes. And be sure to aim for at least 25 grams of fibre per day in your diet. Asparagus is just one delicious option.

When you purchase asparagus, look for firm spears where the tips are quite closed and compact (as in the photo above). This is a sign of freshness. You’ll want to trim off any woody ends before cooking. And they are best stored upright in a little bit of water to help keep them fresh although, if you’re like me, you’ll likely gobble them up the day you buy them!

Chimichurri para todo

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail ChimichurriThis means chimichurri for everything. And, aside from dessert, it’s true. This Argentinian sauce is that versatile. There are many variations but essentially it is an uncooked sauce of green herbs, olive oil, and acid (vinegar or citrus), garlic and a little chili. In this simple version, the herb is fresh flat-leaf parsley, but you could also include oregano or cilantro. And here lime juice is the acid component. Chimichurri does double duty as both a marinade and a condiment.

And it is equally at home with grilled/roasted vegetables as with grilled/roasted meats and fish. Chicken, steak, lamb, pork, salmon, branzino, cod, tuna, shrimp and scallops are all excellent options. It’s fantastic with grilled halloumi, feta, bocconcini or buffalo mozzarella (think Chimichurri Caprese). And it’s a wonder over poached or fried eggs. If you’re vegan, try it over lentils, white or black beans, quinoa or farro, or tofu.

Serve any combo of the above atop your leafy green of choice (arugula, dandelion greens, radicchio, kale, spinach and so on) and drizzle chimichurri over it all for one spectacular big-a$$ salad. Let your imagination run wild!

Extra chimichurri? You can…

  • mix it with Greek yogurt for a zesty dip,
  • stir it into mayo for a robust sandwich spread,
  • add fresh avocado to it and serve atop tacos or quesadillas,
  • swirl it on soup or stew for an extra garlicky punch,
  • toss it with hot or cold pasta, or
  • freeze it to help you make a quick and zesty meal later!

Enjoy and happy grilling!


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