Asparagus might get a bad rep, but it is incredibly delicious and wonderfully tasty. You just need to know what to do with it.
This green vegetable is known for its long spears with a little point at the end. It is typically best in spring when it naturally grows, but nowadays you can find it year-round at your local grocery store.
Grown and eaten in Greece 2,500 years ago and was something the Romans enjoyed as well. Asparagus is often found in the wild because it is a perennial. A perennial is a plant that will grow year after year on its own.
It comes in a host of colors. The green variety is probably what pops into your mind first, but it also comes in purple and white. Green asparagus has a bright and clean flavor with some earthy notes. The purple variety is a bit sweeter and the white a bit milder.
Asparagus is well suited for many dishes because you can cook it six ways from Sunday. It tastes great grilled, shaved thin and served raw, blanched, steamed, simmered, fried, etc. The options are positively endless.
It is delicious served raw. I like to trim the stalks and about 1/2″ of the base of each spear. Use a y-peeler and shave the stalks into thin ribbons. These are great in salads or added to your favorite pasta with some lemon and parmesan cheese.
The best way to sauté asparagus is to blanch it quickly in hot water before adding it to your sauté pan. Nothing is worse than a super raw asparagus spear when they are meant to be cooked through. This technique also helps preserve that bright green color.
All you have to do is throw the stalks in salted water for a minute or so. Run them under cold water and dry them with a paper towel. Add them to a sauté pan with some oil (and garlic if you like) and sauté for 3-5 minutes until they are just starting to brown.
What are the health benefits of asparagus?
Asparagus is fat-free and low in sodium as well as cholesterol. On top of that, it is full of nutrients like potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K.
When you are at the store, you want green stalks from tip to base and the tips should have a compact structure. If they are flaring out, best to grab another bunch. Steer clear of any that are super pliable or bending.
When you get home, take a knife and cut off about ¼ of an inch to ½ of an inch of each spear. I do this while they are all banded together. Doing this allows them to soak up water to keep them looking fresh.
Wrap the base in a damp paper towel or put them in a wide cup with an inch or so of water. This will give them a bit more longevity in the fridge.