15 Food Similar to Asparagus

A bunch of asparagus

Asparagus (Asparagus officinalis) is an incredibly delicious and nutritious vegetable that is seasonally available in the early spring. Often one of the first vegetable crops harvested in the spring, asparagus is a perennial usually grown from crowns or roots. If planted in ideal conditions, it can be a hardy plant that will produce for 15 years or more.

Health Benefits

In ancient Roman times, asparagus was hailed as a medicinal plant with aphrodisiac properties. There may be some truth to this claim as it is rich in micronutrients such as potassium, vitamins A, C, and K, and B vitamins like folate. Asparagus is also rich in powerful antioxidants such as glutathione and beta-carotene as well as minerals like iron, zinc, manganese, and selenium.

How to Use Asparagus?

Asparagus stalks are commonly served as a side dish or as part of a stir-fry. They can be steamed, blanched, grilled, roasted, or sauteed and are a very popular vegetable. Asparagus stalks can also be eaten raw, for example in a salad or crudités.

Nutritional Information

Nutrition facts of raw asparagus

For a 100 gram serving, asparagus contains:

  • Calories – 20
  • Fat – 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrate – 3.9 g
  • Protein – 2.2 g
  • Vitamin C – 9% DV
  • Iron – 11% DV
  • Vitamin B6 – 5% DV
  • Magnesium – 3% DV
  • Calcium – 2% DV

What Foods Are Similar to Asparagus?

Here is a list of 15 other foods that are similar to Asparagus. Some of these vegetables you may never have heard of before.

1. Broccoli (Brassica oleracea)

A bowl of fresh broccoli

Broccoli is probably the most common substitute for asparagus, whether as a side dish or in a recipe. The stalks and florets of broccoli have a similar texture and appearance to asparagus if cooked in the same way. The flavor of broccoli is different, however, than that of asparagus.

The health benefits of broccoli are also similar to those of asparagus as they both are high in vitamins A, C, E, and K, and minerals like iron, potassium, zinc, and selenium. Broccoli is another vegetable rich in the antioxidants glutathione and beta-carotene.

Usually found year-round in supermarkets, broccoli is a very popular vegetable, as well. It is usually grown from seed and harvested for the florets and stalks.

For a 100 gram serving, broccoli contains:

  • Calories – 34
  • Fat – 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrate – 7 g
  • Protein – 2.8 g
  • Vitamin C – 148% DV
  • Iron – 3% DV
  • Vitamin B6 – 10% DV
  • Magnesium – 5% DV
  • Calcium – 4% DV

2. Agretti (Salsola Soda)

 A bundle of agretti on wooden table.

Also known as monk’s beard and roscano, agretti is a vegetable that has the flavors of asparagus and artichoke when cooked. It has a long, grass-like appearance, but has depth and bite to its leaves almost like a succulent.

Cultivated mostly in Italy, agretti can also be found growing wild in coastal regions all over the Mediterranean. It is harvested for its leaves which can be blanched, steamed, or sauteed. Agretti is often used the same as one might use greens, such as a side dish or tossed with pasta.

Monk’s beard is rich in minerals like iron, phosphorus, calcium, and potassium. It is a good source of vitamin A and B vitamins.

For a 100 gram serving, agretti contains:

  • Calories – 51
  • Fat – 0.5 g
  • Carbohydrate – 5.6 g
  • Protein – 4.8 g
  • Fiber – 2.3 g

3. Fiddlehead Ferns

A bowl of garnished fiddlehead ferns.

Fiddlehead ferns are the still-curled young shoots, or fronds, of certain species of ferns including the lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina), the vegetable fern (Athyrium esculentum), and others. Not all ferns are edible, however, and should only be harvested by an expert. The young fronds are generally picked wild from March to June.

Having a taste and texture similar to asparagus, fiddleheads are very popular during their brief availability during the spring and early summer. They are high in antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamins A and C. The shoots are also a great source of minerals like potassium and magnesium.

For a 100 gram serving, fiddlehead ferns contain:

  • Calories – 34
  • Fat – 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrate – 6 g
  • Protein – 4.6 g
  • Potassium – 370 mg
  • Vitamin C – 44% DV
  • Iron – 7% DV
  • Magnesium – 8% DV
  • Calcium – 3% DV

4. Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

Chopped fennels on green platter.

Another ancient vegetable, fennel has been used for thousands of years as medicine, spice, and food. While the seeds and flowers of fennel have a strong anise flavor, the bulb and stalks are much milder with a celery and artichoke-like taste when cooked.

Fennel stalk has a texture similar to asparagus when steamed or sauteed. It can be used in soups, stews, stir-fried, and also grilled as a side dish. Fennel is also used fresh in salads.

Grown from seed, fennel is often cultivated on farms and in gardens, but also grows wild where it can be foraged.

Rich in fiber, folate, vitamin C, potassium, and phytonutrients, fennel supports heart health and maintaining low blood pressure.

For a 100 gram serving, fennel contains:

  • Calories – 31
  • Fat – 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrate – 7 g
  • Protein – 1.2 g
  • Potassium – 414 mg
  • Vitamin C – 20% DV
  • Iron – 3% DV
  • Magnesium – 4% DV
  • Calcium – 4% DV

5. Celery (Apium graveolens)

Celery stalk with leaves on a wooden chopping board.

A very common vegetable almost always found in grocery stores year-round, celery has a mild but distinct flavor. It is often served raw as crudité or in salads such as a Waldorf, but is also cooked and used in stir-fries and soups.

Celery is a widely cultivated vegetable grown from seed. It is harvested by cutting it off at the base of the stems right above ground level. While not having a flavor similar to asparagus, it does have a similar shape and texture when cooked.

A rich source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds, celery is a highly nutritional vegetable.

For a 100 gram serving, celery contains:

  • Calories – 14
  • Fat – 0.17 g
  • Carbohydrate – 3 g
  • Protein – 0.7 g
  • Potassium – 260 mg
  • Vitamin C – 3% DV
  • Iron – 1% DV
  • Calcium – 3% DV

6. Cardoon (Cynara cardunculus)

Cardoon stalks on chopping board and ceramic plate.

Cardoons are members of the thistle family, like artichokes, but it’s the long leaf stalks that are harvested like celery for eating. Remove the tough outer ribs from the stalks and they are usually braised to reduce any bitterness. Cardoon has a flavor reminiscent of artichoke with hints of asparagus and salsify.

The extract of the flower of the cardoon is a widely used vegetable rennet for cheese making in Portugal and Spain.

Delicious cardoons are low in calories, high in fiber and rich in minerals and nutrients such as folic acid, potassium, iron, magnesium, copper, and manganese.

For a 100 gram serving, cardoons contain:

  • Calories – 17
  • Fat – 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrate – 4 g
  • Protein – 0.7 g
  • Potassium – 400 mg
  • Iron – 9% DV
  • Copper – 27% DV
  • Magnesium – 10% DV
  • Calcium – 7% DV

7. Salsify (Tragopogon porrifolius)

Salsify vegetables with spices and herbs

A relative of the parsnip, this winter root vegetable is also known as the oyster plant. While some claim that it does taste like oysters, it has a complex flavor more commonly compared to asparagus. The flowering shoots of salsify can also be cut and cooked like asparagus.

The root of this plant can be baked, boiled, steamed, or roasted and was once a favorite of the Victorian era before it fell out of fashion.

Salsify also has a similar nutritional profile to asparagus. It has good amounts of potassium, folate, fiber, minerals, and micronutrients.

For a 100 gram serving, salsify contains:

  • Calories -82
  • Fat – 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrate – 19 g
  • Protein – 3.3 g
  • Potassium – 380 mg
  • Iron – 4% DV
  • Calcium – 5%

8. Leeks (Allium porrum)

Leeks in a wooden storage.

While leeks don’t taste anything like asparagus, they both can add a lot of flavor to any dish. Leeks are a non-bulbing form of allium which is grown using a hilling technique that blanches the lower portion of the plant. This blanching forces the leaves higher up on the leek and creates a larger edible portion.

Leeks are also similar to asparagus in nutrition. They are high in vitamin K, minerals, and carotenoid phytonutrients lutein and zeaxanthin.

For a 100 gram serving, leeks contain:

  • Calories – 61
  • Fat – 0.3 g
  • Carbohydrate – 14 g
  • Protein – 1.5 g
  • Vitamin C – 20% DV
  • Iron – 11% DV
  • Vitamin B6 – 10% DV
  • Magnesium – 7% DV
  • Calcium – 5% DV

9. Ramps (Allium tricoccum)

Bundles of ramps in a round container.

Ramps are leek’s wild cousin, with a completely different flavor. They are much more potent than their tamer relatives, with a garlicky profile. Ramps could be used interchangeably with asparagus in some dishes to add a good deal of flavor.

All alliums, like ramps, are nutrient-dense and are thought to have a host of potential health benefits.

For a 100 gram serving, ramps contain:

  • Calories – 54
  • Fat – 0 g
  • Carbohydrate – 13 g
  • Protein – 1 g
  • Vitamin C – 28% DV
  • Iron – 11% DV
  • Vitamin A – 31% DV
  • Calcium – 6% DV

10. Brussels Sprouts (Brassica oleracea)

Brussels sprouts on a wooden table.

Cute as a button mini-cabbages with a nutty flavor profile, brussels sprouts are members of the Brassica family which includes broccoli, kale, and mustard greens.

Grown on long stalks which are studded with the sprouts, they are often cut from the stalk and sold by the pound. Brussels sprouts may be steamed, sauteed, or roasted in a pan or oven.

These little nutrient-powerhouses are particularly rich in antioxidants. They also have a good deal of fiber, vitamins K and C, folate, and ALA omega-3 fatty acids.

For a 100 gram serving, brussels sprouts contain:

  • Calories – 43
  • Fat – 0.3 g
  • Carbohydrate – 9 g
  • Protein – 3.4 g
  • Vitamin C – 141% DV
  • Iron – 7% DV
  • Vitamin B6 – 10% DV
  • Potassium – 11% DV
  • Magnesium – 5% DV
  • Calcium – 4% DV

11. Avocado (Persea americana)

Avocado cut in halves.

Creamy, nutty, and with a flavor all their own, avocados are a treasure and a superfood. There are many varieties of avocado, but they all have a green flesh inside the fruit which is eaten while the large seed and the skin are discarded.

The fruit is most often eaten raw when perfectly ripened, but can be cooked into some interesting recipes including stuffed avocado.

Avocados are similar to asparagus in that they are high in folate, vitamin K, and potassium.

For a 100 gram serving, avocados contain:

  • Calories – 160
  • Fat -15 g
  • Carbohydrate – 9 g
  • Protein – 2 g
  • Fiber – 7 g
  • Vitamin B6 – 15% DV
  • Potassium – 13% DV
  • Magnesium – 7% DV

12. Asparagus Beans (Vigna unguiculata)

Green and yellow asparagus beans

Despite their name, asparagus beans don’t really taste like asparagus. They are more similar to green beans with a richer, nuttier flavor.

Also called yardlong beans or snake beans, they can grow to a foot and a half long and be cut into lengths resembling asparagus spears. Asparagus beans can be steamed, stir-fried, or sauteed.

These beans are best when picked while still young and tender. A good source of protein, these beans are nutrient-dense.

For a 100 gram serving, asparagus beans contain:

  • Calories – 47
  • Fat – 0.4 g
  • Carbohydrate – 8 g
  • Protein – 2.8 g
  • Vitamin C – 31% DV
  • Potassium – 6% DV
  • Magnesium – 11% DV
  • Calcium – 5% DV

13. Sugar Snap Peas (Pisum sativum)

Sugar snap peas

Like green beans, sugar snap peas look similar to asparagus spears but taste very different. Snap peas do however share a crisp texture and sweetness with fresh asparagus.

Usually grown from seed on a trellis, sugar snap peas grow on long vines and are harvested when the peas begin to swell in the pods, at their peak of sweetness. These pea pods are eaten whole, often fresh or only lightly cooked, in stir-fries, salads, or as a side dish.

Sugar snap peas are high in fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants like vitamin C.

For a 100 gram serving, sugar snap peas contain:

  • Calories – 42
  • Fat – 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrate – 7.5 g
  • Protein – 2.8 g
  • Vitamin A – 22% DV
  • Vitamin C – 80% DV
  • Iron – 12% DV
  • Vitamin K – 31% DV
  • Folate – 10% DV

14. Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris)

Swiss chard on wood plank table.

A close relative of garden beets, swiss chard is cultivated for its leaves and stalks and does not produce a root bulb. Chard can also be harvested and regrown all season long.

Swiss chard is similar to spinach in its uses as a leafy green, but its stalk has a similar texture to asparagus when cooked. It can be steamed, braised, stir-fried, and sauteed.

Like most leafy greens, swiss chard is packed with nutrients and antioxidants. It is especially rich in vitamins A and K.

For a 100 gram serving, swiss chard contains:

  • Calories – 20
  • Fat – 0.1 g
  • Carbohydrate – 4.1 g
  • Protein – 1.9 g
  • Vitamin A – 122% DV
  • Vitamin C – 30% DV
  • Vitamin K – 409% DV
  • Iron -13% DV
  • Potassium – 16% DV

15. Hearts of Palm

Hearts of palm on wooden table.

Heart of palm is the inner core of certain varieties of palm including the coconut (Cocos nucifera) and the açaí, (Euterpe oleracea) depending on which part of the world you are in.

Normally available canned or in jars, palm hearts are readily available in most grocery stores. They can be eaten raw such as in salads, or cooked by stir-frying, sauteed, or braised. Heart of palm has a flavor somewhere in between asparagus, water chestnut, and artichoke.

Palm hearts are rich in fiber, protein, and vitamin B6. They are also an important source of carbohydrates.

For a 100 gram serving, hearts of palm contain:

  • Calories – 115
  • Fat – 0.2 g
  • Carbohydrate – 26 g
  • Protein – 2.7 g
  • Vitamin C – 13% DV
  • Iron – 9% DV
  • Vitamin B6 – 40% DV
  • Potassium – 51% DV

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