all about asparagus
Spring is here, which means it’s asparagus season. Harvested between March and June, this colorful nutritious vegetable is easy to prepare, easier to cook, and easily one of our favorite Spring crops.
picking the proper stalk
Look for odorless, dry tips and smooth, green stems. The dryer the stems, the older the stalk. No need to worry whether a thin or thicker stem is better — both are equally tender and delicious when cooked. In addition to a good taste, all asparagus are low in calories, sodium, cholesterol, and fat and high in Vitamins A and C, and folate.
prepping and storing
Asparagus should be cleaned and refrigerated as soon as possible. With a soft brush, scrub the stems in cold water to remove any remaining dirt or soil. Carefully remove any scales with a small paring knife and snap off the woody ends with spears. Once clean and gloriously green, place the stems in cold water, cover with plastic, and refrigerate (they’re good up to four days).
not always green
Asparagus comes in other colors, depending on what’s in them and how they’re grown. Green asparagus gets its color from chlorophyll while purple asparagus gets its tint from anothocyanins; both powerful antioxidants. On the other hand, asparagus grown in the dark is white and lacks these antioxidants. White asparagus has a more delicate and less bitter flavor and a more tender texture than green or purple asparagus.
bringing the brightness out
Blanching is a cooking process in which produce is plunged into boiling water and then placed into iced water. With asparagus, blanching creates tender, crisp stems. To begin, add asparagus to boiling water for 2–5 minutes or until bright green, then transfer to iced water. The result is bright green stems, ready to be served immediately.
getting things hot
Here’s two quick, simple ways for cooking tender, juicy asparagus. Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper. Fire up the grill to medium heat and set the asparagus on the grate for 3–5 minutes or until cooked. If you’re using an oven, spread the asparagus on a pan and roast for 10–15 minutes or until cooked. Be wary of overcooking as it results in dull color and the loss of flavor and nutrients.
goes great with . . .
Asparagus is best cooked right before serving. The tender stalks are perfect ingredients soups, salads, stirfries, and risottos. Brighten your morning omelet with sautéed asparagus or cut spears into one-inch pieces to add some color and nutrients to your pasta. This versatile vegetable also pairs well with other spices like chives, parsley, tarragon, and thyme.
chicken with asparagus and mushrooms
35 minutes | serves 4
lemon-garlic asparagus and sweet potatoes
25 minutes | serves 4
lemon quinoa with asparagus and feta
55 minutes | serves 12