Spilling The Beans On Fresh Asparagus

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - July 08, 2009
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Award-winning Bravo Restaurant is a landmark in Aiea, and it’s no wonder with its great food, fabulous service and assistant manager Greg Duldulao on the job making sure all runs smoothly.

Bravo’s menu has something for everyone: authentic Italian specialties made to order, pizza, pasta, salads and mouthwatering desserts. The freshly baked garlic rolls served with every entrée are alone worth the trip, and the open kitchen has always been a favorite of mine. Bravo also is a great place for parties and special occasions at reasonable prices.

Greg has been with the restaurant since it opened in 1988, and it’s obvious from talking with him that he loves his job! It’s a pleasure to dedicate this column to Greg and his family.

Asparagus is believed to have been cultivated and valued for its medicinal properties in ancient Egypt. Asparagus is actually a young, edible shoot that grows from an underground stem called a crown. This crown is capable of producing asparagus shoots or spears for 15 or more years.

Most asparagus is harvested in spring and is available in abundance from March to late June. Asparagus is an excellent source of folic acid and contains vitamin C, potassium, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, copper, vitamin A, iron, phosphorous and zinc. Asparagus contains a sulfurous substance which imparts an odor to urine. It is said to be diuretic and laxative.

Here’s a salad that’s popular with my family. It’s great for potlucks and barbecues.


* 1 pound fresh asparagus, trim tough ends off and cut into 2-inch pieces, or use

* 1 1/2 (10 ounce) packages frozen cut asparagus, thawed

* 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed well and drained

*6 Roma tomatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces

* 1 medium Maui onion, chopped

* fat-free Italian vinaigrette dressing (balsamic or regular)

* 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Cook fresh asparagus in microwave or steamer, or thaw frozen asparagus and drain well. Combine with garbanzo beans and add 1/4 cup dressing; toss to coat. Mix tomatoes with onions and gently fold into asparagus-bean mixture. Add more dressing, if desired, and toss to coat. Chill for two hours in refrigerator. Just before serving, sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Makes six servings.

Nutrition Information Per Serving:

Calories: 86
Fat: 1.8 grams
Cholesterol: 2 milligrams
Sodium: 73 milligrams, depending on dressing chosen - read label for sodium content.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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