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In Anticipation of Asparagus

By Alana Sugar, March 19, 2012  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Alana Sugar

Every spring I anxiously await the seasonal appearance of those first spears of asparagus gracing the displays at my local Whole Foods Market®.

Although grown the world over and available year-round in the US, asparagus is freshest and at its best during the spring. It’s a versatile vegetable, delicious hot or cold, sautéed or steamed, roasted or grilled. It’s great as an appetizer, adds flavor to salads, is delicious in soups and is wonderful as a side dish.

Asparagus has an ancient, regal history too. I laughed when I learned it was first eaten by Julius Caesar in Lombardy, where he declared he wanted it served with melted butter — that’s my favorite way, too.

King Louis XIV loved it so much he called it “The King of Vegetables,” and King Louis XVI was so enamored with it that he insisted his gardeners grow it year-round in hothouses.

Asparagus is a member of the Lily family, known by its long, tender shoots, some thin, some thick. Both are tasty, depending on personal preference. Few people realize that asparagus comes in more shades than green; there are purple and white varieties as well. The plant’s exposure to sunlight determines what color the asparagus will be.

Here’s a selection of some wonderful asparagus ideas and recipes:

Remember, asparagus can quickly go from gorgeous to gruesome. Fresh is best but frozen will do in a pinch.

Unless otherwise specified in your recipe or making a puréed soup, asparagus only needs a few minutes of cooking, so be sure to add it just before your dish is done. It’s quickly perishable and best eaten as close to harvesting as possible; plan to use it within a day or two of purchasing.

Do you long for the spring in anticipation of asparagus? Got a favorite idea or recipe? I would love to hear.

Category: Food & Recipes, Produce

 

10 Comments

Comments

Linda Meuse says ...
I can remember eating them as a child. From the time asparagus came into season it was in abundance in our home. My mother and grandmother always made Aspargus and eggs. It was delicious. She would us the leftovers(if there were any), or but them.She would clean them, and cut them into pieces (about 1lb). In a pan with olive oil, she would saute them until they were nice and tender, while that was cooking she would whisk 6 eggs and salt, pepper and the secret ingredient Romano Cheese, the real stuff. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and allow the bottom of the eggs to cook well, Make sure you use a silicone spatual to lossen up the egg. With a plate larger then the pan invert the eggs so the to is now on the bottom of the plate, slide it back into the pan and allow the bottom to cook about 5 minutes, place on serving platter and enjoy with of course a nice slice or two of Italian bread, top with a sprinkle of Romano cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. This sounds just like a fritata it probably is by todays cooks, but this dish has been made by my Italian grandparents and mother for as long as I can remember and I am well lets say its been a very long time. So try it because you will get hooked.
03/28/2012 8:37:56 PM CDT
Dave Beaulieu says ...
The key to so many asparagus recipes is blanching the spears before cooking them. Asparagus is pretty easy to over cook and when over cooked it's limp, soggy and tasteless. Great recipes...I just picked up my first batch of the season at Wholefood yesterday and make a bit of Spaghetti with Asparagus!
03/24/2012 9:27:07 AM CDT
KarenHoward says ...
Pasta with Asparagus sounds good. I like to Steam it & add Bernaise sauce, with a meal. Or Roast it in a pan with olive oil & a dash of Ginger or Nutmeg & 2 Teaspoons per/bunch of Grated orange rind. Yummy! I always anticipate Spring so I can buy Asparagus Fresh-in season. I will try Pasta with Ham or Purscuitto-(Can't Spell It) & Asparagus with an Alfredo Sauce.
03/28/2012 5:56:32 PM CDT
2Sisters2Cities says ...
I am actually hosting an asparagus-themed linky party over at 2 Sisters 2 Cities as part of our Fresh Produce Tuesday series. I would love if you linked up this post! -m
03/28/2012 1:50:43 PM CDT
carolyn dougharty says ...
I make what I have dubbed 'asparagus frites'. Roast them in a hot oven with a touch of olive oil and salt, and roast till crispy. I know it sounds weird, but everyone loves these things. They are super powerfully flavored, and very addicting! Plan on buying twice the amount of asparagus than normal, because they really shrink up.
04/12/2012 5:08:52 PM CDT
Gluten free products says ...
You shared a great vegetable. I like asparagus a lot and it is also a gluten free food. Thanks for the ideas.
03/31/2012 2:09:31 PM CDT
janejohnson says ...
@JJ If well washed, you can eat asparagus raw. However, it will have a very woody texture and be tough. If you wish to microwave your asparagus first, that would help with the woody texture and soften the end product but will not provide the same outcome as roasting. What I recommend to save time is batch cook on a day you have free time. This means you roast the veggies ahead of time and then microwave them for meals throughout the week. Hope this helps!
03/20/2012 11:32:10 AM CDT
j.J. says ...
Can asparagus be eaten raw? I see it as a suggestion instead of lettuce on sandwiches, but the linked recipe calls for roasting first. But it would be easier on sandwiches to take to work if all it needed was a quick warm up in the microwave, instead of using the oven in this warm spring.
03/20/2012 11:23:48 AM CDT
Daniel says ...
When eating raw asparagus, look for the pencil thin size. These tend to be the most tender. You may want to try chopping them with red onion, serving with a touch of grated parm and a light lemony dressing. Divine!
03/22/2012 1:00:53 PM CDT
Sharon says ...
This is one of my favorite recipes incorporating raw asparagus: http://www.cookstr.com/recipes/shaved-asparagus-and-parmesan-salad Delicious!!
03/22/2012 8:54:02 AM CDT