Asparagus is a well-known vegetable that can turn every meal into veggie heaven. Unfortunately for all asparagus lovers out there, we only get it for two months of the year – from around the end of April into June – potentially making all those delicious asparagus recipes go to waste.
If you’re wondering how to replace asparagus in a recipe without compromising the taste of your meal, here you will find the 8 best asparagus substitutes as well as some ideas on how to cook them.
The best substitutes for asparagus
Asparagus (also known as garden asparagus and sparrow grass) is a fine green vegetable with a distinct strong flavor. Typically found in Europe and western Asia, asparagus is the go-to seasonable vegetable for vegans, vegetarians, and other veggie lovers.
The young shoots of asparagus are called ‘sprue’ and used as a spring vegetable. Thin and tender, they’re the most commonly eaten part of asparagus. When buds start to open, the shoots become thicker and can quickly turn woody. These ends need to be removed by being bent both ways until they snap.
You can consume canned asparagus by heating it up and adding herbs and spices, but eating asparagus fresh and as soon as it’s picked up is the best way to profit from all the amazing nutrients. In fact, not only does asparagus taste amazing, but it’s also a great source of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. At the same time, asparagus is also low in calories, thus the perfect addition to any meal.
You can prepare asparagus in many different ways, but it’s mostly used steamed and as a veggie side dish. One of the most popular food combinations is salmon and asparagus, but you can adjust it to your preferences and add any other meat or fish to it.
Whether the asparagus season is over or you simply don’t appreciate the taste of it, there are many tasty alternatives to asparagus that will make every dish burst with flavor. Check out the 8 best substitutes for asparagus below and enjoy a healthy, delicious meal.
The first asparagus replacement on this list is a veggie we all know. Broccoli is by far the best alternative to asparagus because of its similar flavor.
In addition, there are no great differences in cooking it either. You can saute it or steam it for 10 minutes alongside other veggies. The cooking time depends mostly on you and your preferences, so it’s up to you to decide which texture you want to achieve.
Both broccoli and asparagus are high in nutrients and delicious so it’s a win-win situation no matter which vegetable you choose for your recipe. Broccoli contains plenty of beneficial nutrients and is commonly referred to as a superfood.
Peas are another great asparagus alternative that you can easily implement into your recipes. They can make any meal delicious and are perfect just picked, frozen, or cooked.
One of the greatest things about peas is they are low in calories but high in nutrients. Another thing we love about them is that they are easy to prepare.
Similar to asparagus, peas are usually served as a side dish to meat and fish. Try combining them with salmon and crème fraîche to make the perfect pasta sauce, then add pasta of your choosing to the mix. You can also make a fresh pea soup with either frozen or fresh peas. Either way, you’ll get a refreshing spring or summer meal.
If you’re looking for a slightly different flavor but still want to get that high nutritional value asparagus has to offer, the leek is a great option.
Leek offers plenty of vitamin A, vitamin C, as well as magnesium so it’s a great asparagus alternative in terms of nutritional value.
Although leek has a different taste and texture to asparagus, you’ll love it as a side dish. Leek is extremely versatile and easy to prepare. Whether you prefer eating soups or stews, you can add leek and take any meal to another level.
Alternatively, you can eat leek raw or steam it. Either way, you won’t regret it because leek is always tasty.
If you’re looking for vegetables similar to asparagus but have no desire to get involved in any complicated cooking methods, we have a solution. Lettuce is the asparagus substitute that you’ve been searching for to complete your recipes.
As you know, lettuce doesn’t require cooking or any special preparation. Simply washing it and seasoning will be just fine.
Lettuce is very healthy and can replace asparagus in every recipe and keep your meals fresh and nutritious.
Despite being a fruit, avocado is very similar to asparagus and will make any meal tasty and creamy. In recent years, avocado has become extremely popular among veggie lovers due to its notorious creamy texture and unique flavor.
Not only does avocado taste delicious, but it’s also fairly nutrient-rich. Avocados are high in calories but you shouldn’t worry about it because these calories come from healthy fats.
Preparing avocado is simple. You just cut it in slices, season it with salt and pepper (we suggest adding lemon as well) and you have your side dish.
6. Green beans
If you’re looking for vegetables like asparagus, green beans are a perfect substitute. They are nutritional and high in protein, which is why vegans and vegetarians often opt for them as a way to increase their protein intake.
In terms of cooking, green beans are similar to peas. If you prepare them the right way, you’ll get a nice, delicious asparagus substitute.
When it comes to preparing green beans, they can be baked, steamed, fried, and sauteed. Steaming green beans is the best way to retain all those beneficial nutrients that they have to offer.
They are most delicious when sauteed in olive oil with garlic or other seasonings. Don’t be shy and experiment with your veggies until you find that perfect combination.
Zucchini is another popular summer veggie that you can easily integrate into any diet to substitute for asparagus. It has a neutral but delicate flavor, which makes it perfect for preparing creative meals and combining with other ingredients.
You can use zucchini in many different ways, from boiling or roasting it to baking it and even eating it raw.
Whether you prefer simple summer meals or you would like to experiment and spice things up, you can prepare zucchini however you want. For example, you can turn zucchini into a pasta replacement by slicing it thinly into spaghetti shapes using a mandoline or a vegetable peeler. Or you can cook your pasta with zucchini, both as a warm and cold dish depending on your preference.
Another way to go is to make a delicious frittata by using whatever you have in the fridge. Just like asparagus, zucchini will go perfectly with other veggies such as eggplants or broccoli. Just remember that zucchini can taste rather sweet in comparison to other vegetables, so if you want to reduce the sweetness, add salt accordingly.
The last but certainly not the least alternative to asparagus is celery. If you’re a fan of celery, you can easily replace asparagus with it and still get a fine, refreshing meal.
The green sticks of celery are famous for their delicious taste and flavor. You can even eat them raw and still enjoy the perfect celery flavor.
Celery is almost identical to asparagus in terms of taste profile and nutritional value. Just like asparagus, celery contains a suitable nutrition count.
If you don’t want to eat your celery raw, you can prepare it by steaming it or sauteing it just like with asparagus. Either way, you’ll get a nice, delicious meal that’s also rich in vitamins.
Try cooking up a batch of fresh celery soup and serving it with bread. You’ll absolutely love the delicacy of this dish! Or you can prepare a speedy salad with celery, parmesan, and almonds that you can keep in the fridge for days and still enjoy that amazing celery taste.
How to choose an asparagus substitute
Choosing the best substitute for asparagus is quite easy: it mostly depends on your own personal preferences and the recipes you’re following.
If you want to replace asparagus in your recipes because you’re not a fan of the taste, you’ll surely find a ton of other options on our list. Avocado, lettuce, and peas are the golden standard of veggies that will make any meal burst with flavor.
On another hand, if asparagus is currently out of season or you’re out of stock, but you’re craving that strong asparagus flavor, we suggest going with broccoli or celery. Both broccoli and celery have a similar taste profile and they’re as nutritious as asparagus, so you’ll be good to go either way.
No matter which asparagus substitute you choose for your recipe, you can’t go wrong. All of these vegetables are yummy, healthy, and easy to prepare.
You’re probably familiar with most of the vegetables similar to asparagus from our list, so you’ll easily incorporate them into your recipes. If not, we hope we’ve helped you find the perfect alternative to enrich your dish and enjoy your meal!