Peak season for asparagus is usually April through June, but since the beginning of Spring this year was so wonky weather wise, there is still tons of asparagus coming into the markets and onto menus now. Who would have thought we would be grateful for all of that April and May frost?
What it is:
Asparagus is a member of the Lily family. Asparagus spears grow from a crown that is planted about a foot deep in sandy soils. Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period. Asparagus is a nutrient-dense food which in high in Folic Acid and is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin. There are over three hundred species of asparagus, but three types are most common: green, white and purple. White asparagus is simply green asparagus that lacks green chlorophyll because it’s grown covered with soil – as the it grows dirt is continuously mounded around the stalk, depriving it of light. It’s less bitter than the green variety. Purple asparagus is different varietal altogether — it has a high sugar and low fiber content.. The color is due to the same cancer-fighting phytochemical found in blueberries. Fun fact about asparagus: Roman emperors maintained special asparagus fleets to gather and carry the choicest spears to the empire.
How to use it:
One of the things that we love about asparagus is how versatile it is — you can steam, roast, grill, boil it — or serve it thinly shaved, raw. Most traditionally, it’s either steamed or boiled, and is often cooked in an upright bundle to allow the woody stems more cooking time than the more delicate tips, which only need gentle steaming to become tender. Asparagus can also be roasted or grilled to create a balance of charred and concentrated sweet flavors.
What some chefs are doing with it right now:
Marc Forgione recently featured an asparagus ravioli, morels, pea shoots at Restaurant Marc Forgione
in NYC, La Vara
is serving Trigueros - local asparagus, homemade mayo & crispy Andalucian shrimp for Eat Drink Local week. Pumpkin
restaurant in Philadelphia has an asparagus & sharp provolone scramble on their market specials. And we recently had an inventive asparagus gazpacho w/ quinoa and sugar snap peas at Gramercy Tavern
. And in Chicago, Graham Elliot tweeted a tempting pic of the potato gnocchi, grilled asparagus, fried egg, and grated parmesan at Graham Elliot Bistro
What great asparagus dishes are you seeing or making? Let us know in the comments.