All About Asparagus
Asparagus is a classic and versatile vegetable that can be enjoyed at backyard barbecues and upscale restaurants alike. While most people think of the traditional green asparagus plants, white and purple varieties are also available, and theyâ€™re especially tender with a sweeter overall flavor. Feel free to use whichever color you like â€“ theyâ€™re all interchangeable in recipes!
Given its nutritional value (providing vitamins A, C, folate and fiber), asparagus makes a welcome addition to any menu. Read below for everything you need to know about shopping for and cooking this versatile vegetable!
- How itâ€™s grown: Grown in spring and early summer, asparagus is a hearty plant. During the warmer parts of the growing season, asparagus is picked as often as every 24 hours, and a stalk can grow up to 10â€ť per day in ideal conditions! New asparagus plants take about 3 years to develop strong roots, but will continue to grow for up to 15 years.
- How to shop for it:Tips should be tight and dry. Spears should be uniform in size and not appear limp or soft (spears with larger diameters tend to be more tender). Raw asparagus should have no odor.
- How to store it:Wrap the ends in a wet paper towel, place in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Or, stand up with ends in 2â€ť of cold water. Asparagus can also be frozen for future use. Before freezing, wash thoroughly, blanch in boiling water for 1-2 minutes, cool immediately in ice water, drain and pack in freezer bags with air removed. Use within 8 months and cook directly from the frozen state.
- How to eat it:
- Slice ÂĽâ€ť off asparagus ends before cooking. Some people prefer to lightly peel the stalk portion for easier eating.
- Be careful when steaming asparagus â€“ over-steaming can lead to the vegetable falling apart!
- Use a vegetable peeler to slice the asparagus into strips or ribbons. Toss with your favorite vinaigrette and serve as a visually exciting cold salad!
- Make vegetable bundles with crisp-tender asparagus stalks (whole or sliced lengthwise), and strips of carrots and zucchini. Tie the bundles with a chive or lightly blanched green onion.
- Asparagus can be topped with Parmesan cheese and baked for a beautiful presentation.
- Crisp-tender asparagus spears can be used to top a veggie sub or sandwich.
- Larger asparagus spears can be placed directly on the grill for a delicious savory flavor.
- Make asparagus fries by coating in flour, a beaten egg and seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Bake and enjoy!