Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

In Anticipation of Asparagus

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.