Asparagus- What you need to know

Asparagus, what and how

Asparagus officinalis- the botanical name- originates in Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. It is used as a vegetable and wildly cultivated as such. What we can buy in the shops are two different kind of asparagus, white and green. However, green and white asparagus originate from the same plant, yes indeed they are the same and not two different kinds.

White and Green

The white asparagus is growing under the surface and thus cannot produce chlorophyll. The green asparagus on the other hand has time to grow above the surface and can produce chlorophyll. But what is this doing with the taste? White asparagus has a certain taste and special aroma. Green asparagus is less intense in taste and has a more ‘grassy’ flavour due to the chlorophyll. Both, green and white, can be used for a lot of dishes like soups and salads or even grilled.

How to recognise good quality?

Freshness of asparagus is one of the most important quality measures. First of all the asparagus should be smooth, straight and firm. A limp stalk indicates that it is already older. At the bottom of the stalks you can also see if they are fresh. Old ones are dried out and start to tear apart. Next to that green asparagus has a rich green colour.

Last but not least, stay seasonal and local. Normally, asparagus is in season from the beginning of April till 24th of June. If you buy asparagus out of the season you probably get asparagus from oversea. Local sourced green asparagus can also be found later during the year. 

How to cook it

There are different ways to cook asparagus but the simplest one is in water with salt and a bit of lemon juice. But also grilled, steamed or blanched asparagus is tasteful. there are no big differences in cooking green of white asparagus. Basically you can eat asparagus with peal, however I would advice to trim off the ends. About 2 to 3 centimetre depending on how fresh the asparagus is. Asparagus also goes really good as a salad.

The classic version- El Classico

The most classic version of an asparagus dish is probably plane boiled asparagus with boiled potatoes a slice of farmers ham and sauce hollandaise. And I have to admit that this dish is an all time classic. 

Butter sauce

A traditional sauce hollandaise is a basic butter sauce. The sauce is a basic in the French cuisine, however its origin is not clear. based on the name one could think that the sauce comes form the Netherlands, but that's not the case. 

This sauce is red in many dishes. For example, eggs Benedict, in dished with fish or topped on vegetables as side dish. So if you master this recipe there are are lots of combinations to try. Basic ingredients for this sauce are butter, vinegar and egg yolks. The only slightly complicated thing is the technique, "au bain marie". Over the years I developed my own bullet proof recipe that always works for me. Have a look. 

Au bain marie technique
Au bain marie technique

Salad form green and white asperges- perfect summer dish

Best way - in my opinion- it is something different compared to the well known classic dish. In this recipe you do not fully cook the asperges which gives still enough crunchiness and bite. Compared with the fresh flavours of lemon and some mild spiciness this dish is perfect to go along with a BBQ or some fried meat. But of course, also only the salad itself is worth an own dish.

Header photo: Tama66, Pixabay

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