In peak season April through June, thick and tender stalks of asparagus are starting to pop up in markets across the country. Originating in the Mediterranean, this perennial garden plant has been considered a delicacy for over 2,000 years. They're characterized by six-to-eight inch long shoots and tightly packed scales.
Asparagus recipes, tips, and ideas after the jump.
Around 300 varieties of asparagus have been recorded; however, only twenty are edible. The most common types of asparagus are green, although white asparagus, which are grown underground to decrease the amount of sunlight and the development of chlorophyll, are commonly available. The other edible variety of asparagus is purple in color, smaller in size (usually just two to three inches tall), and features a fruitier flavor. Choose asparagus with firm, crisp stalks and full, tightly closed tips that are not discolored. The ends of the asparagus that have been cut should be moist and fresh in appearance, not dried or woody. Asparagus are very perishable and will only last about three to four days. Wash asparagus just before use, instead of before storing, to avoid sogginess.
To store fresh asparagus, wrap the stalks in a damp cloth and place in a plastic bag with a few holes, or room for air to seep in. Airtight bags will trap moisture, causing the asparagus to become soggy. Fresh asparagus can also be stored by trimming an inch off the stem end, wrapping the ends with a wet paper towel and then standing the spears upright in a container filled with a few of inches of water. Place a loose plastic bag over the spear tips and store in the refrigerator. To extend asparagus season in your kitchen, try quickly blanching asparagus and storing in a freezer bag for up to nine months.
To prepare asparagus for cooking, wash thoroughly, and trim off the bottom ends of the stalks, at the area where the green color begins to fade. (Alternatively, you can hold the asparagus spear firmly towards the end and bend it until it breaks naturally. The spear should break at the point where it becomes tough.) We've compiled a list of our favorite recipes that feature asparagus to help you take full advantage of this seasonal springtime vegetable.
- Asparagus Salad With An Egg White Dressing
- Chilled Asparagus Mélange with Fines Herbes Aïoli
- Asparagus and Smoked Salmon Frittata
- Asparagus Soup with Egg on Toast
- Roasted Asparagus with Poached Eggs and Miso Butter
- Asparagus Parmesan Pain Perdu with Homemade Tomato Jam
- Asparagus and Mushroom Tart
- Asparagus Wrapped in Pancetta with Citronette
- Asparagus in Bed
How do you like to enjoy asparagus?
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