Asparagus is derived from the Greek word Asparagos which means “sprout” or “shoot”. It is referred to as the aristocrat of vegetables and is considered a harbinger of spring because of its earliness. It is a hardy perennial and a member of the lily family and a close relative to onions, garlic, and leeks.
What to Look for When Purchasing
Green asparagus is the primary type of asparagus on the market but purple and white asparagus can sometimes be found. Purple asparagus is actually a variety that has 20% more sugar and has a nutty flavor and is more tender than green asparagus. White asparagus is blanched as soil is piled over the spears as they emerge to exclude light.
Select spears that are firm yet tender and brightly colored. The tips should be tightly closed and compact. Tips that have begun to open slightly, or are wilted indicate a sign of age. Because you will trim asparagus when you prepare it, plan on purchasing enough for ½ pound per person.
Refrigerate immediately. Wrap in a damp cloth and store in the vegetable crisper section of your refrigerator.
Snap off the bottom-most woody portion of the spear. Save these trimmings for use in stocks. Asparagus may be steamed upright in a tall, covered pot or simmered in a skillet in lightly salted water for 3-5 minutes.
▸Cream of asparagus soup
▸Wrapped in foil with herbs and olive oil and baked until tender
▸Roast with olive oil and serve with balsamic vinegar
▸Serve with a light vinaigrette or mustard sauce