Asparagus |


Photo by Lisa McLaughlin
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.

When buying asparagus, look for firm and tight tips, avoid anything mushy.

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: At Montauk Seafood in Vail, CO
Citrus and herb marinated Damon is being served on an asparagus risotto cake and lemon beurre blanc. The Kennebunk Inn ‏in Kennebunk, Maine is going old school with a Lemon Caper Baked Haddock w/ grilled asparagus & tomato arancini over roasted vegetable marinara. Chef Jonathan Waxman's gnocchi with asparagus and English peas is a celebration of spring at Barbuto in NYC. And in Wisconsin, Zoey Rendall, head chef at The Apple Tree Restaurant & Farm Shop at Brimsmore Gardens has a duck eggs with asparagus wrapped in bacon that sounds delicious. What are the best asparagus dishes that you have seen?

And check out the asparagus dishes in the Cooking District recipes section.


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