Asparagus in the spring.
Food lovers the world over wait impatiently for the first lovely spears to appear in the markets.
But, are you anxously looking for green? White? Violet?
It depends on where you live.
In the U.S. people look for slender, green asparagus.
In Europe people look for fat, white asparagus.
I had some of both, recently. The green was imported from Peru; the white was local.
White asparagus keeps it’s snowy appearance by being grown without sun. It’s less bitter than the green and more tender.
It’s also big.
Violet asparagus is more slender than the white, with purplish tips.
I store green and purple asparagus by slicing off an inch (3cm) or so of the bottom and standing the spears in water. It will keep a few days in the fridge.
White asparagus we try to eat right away.
All of it is best eaten within hours of being cut…..
To prepare green or thin violet asparagus: Snap off the ends by holding the very end of the stalk and bending carefully until it snaps. It will break naturally where the tender stalk begins.
To prepare white asparagus: Cut off the woody stem ends – do not snap or you will lose half the asparagus. Peel the asparagus with a vegetable peeler, starting from just below the tip. White asparagus tends to be brittle, so, to avoid snapping it, lay it flat on the counter to peel.
To cook on top of the stove: Put spears into a skillet big enough to hold them without cutting, add water to cover bottom by 1/4 inch, cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and cook just until done, 8 – 12 minutes, longer for white, adding a bit of water as needed.
To bake/roast: Put a drizzle of oil on a baking sheet – one with a lip all around. I use a pizza pan. Roll the asparagus in oil (use your fingers!). Put in the oven at 400F (200C), tips facing the oven door. Bake for 15 – 25 minutes, depending on size. White will take the longest.
To cook on barbecue grill: Rub with olive oil. Either cook directly on barbecue grill (being careful not to let any slip through, or on a mesh pan. Turn frequently. Should be done in 7 – 15 minutes depending on size and heat. They will start to brown slightly but that’s okay – adds flavor and crunch.
To sauté: Put 1 tbs butter in a large nonstick skillet. Add asparagus and sauté over medium heat until starting to brown and done, 6 – 10 minutes, depending on size.
Green asparagus I prefer to sauté in olive oil, sometimes just finishing with a bit of pepper and sea salt….
Sometimes with a Tarragon Yogurt Sauce:
The recipe, Sautéed Asparagus with Tarragon Yogurt Sauce, has been updated, nutrition information added, and re-posted here: Asparagus with Tarragon Sauce.
The recipe, Chinese Asparagus Salad, has been updated and re-posted here: Chinese Asparagus Salad.
My friend, Tanna, has a great recipe for slow-roasting….
If you’re serious about your asparagus, plan a trip to Germany next April for ‘Spargelfest’. The country goes mad for asparagus and hold festivals in it’s honor.
Be prepared to eat a 4 course meal – each course featuring asparagus.
And all of it will be white, tenderly reared, harvested by hand and lovingly cooked.
See you there….
For more asparagus recipes look under both Vegetable, Starter and Salad in the index at the top.