Asparagus is one of the first vegetables to pop out of the ground. Asparagus is part of the lily family and is related to onions and leeks. There are 3 colours of asparagus. Green asparagus grows above ground and is exposed to sunlight which leads to photosynthesis and the production of green pigments. White asparagus is planted deeper and grows below ground so no green pigments are produced. When the tips poke through the soil they turn violet before they turn green.
Did you know? If grown in the perfect conditions asparagus can grow as much as one inch per hour.
Asparagus are very low in calories and are fat free. ½ cup asparagus contains only 15 calories. Asparagus are a source of fibre, potassium, folate, vitamin A and C. They are also an excellent source of a potent cancer fighting antioxidant called glutathione.
Contrary to popular belief, the thinner stalks are not more tender. Tenderness is related to colour. In fact, the greener (or whiter), the better.
• Choose stalks that are bright in colour and are firm not wrinkled.
• Choose asparagus with closed compact tips, not soft and splayed or soggy tips.
• Store asparagus in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Asparagus will quickly lose its tenderness and sweet flavor if left in the warm for too long.
• Trim the ends and stand the bunch of asparagus in a glass of water in the fridge or wrap the stem ends in a damp paper towel and store in a plastic bag. Do not seal the plastic bag, leave the tips out. Asparagus can be kept in the refrigerator like this for 4 or 5 days.
• Wash in cold running water to remove sand or grit.
• Snap off and discard tough, woody ends.
• Tie the asparagus in bunches if you want all the asparagus to spears to point the same direction after cooking.
• STEAMING: lay the whole spears in a steamer above boiling water, cover and steam 2-3 minutes.
• BLANCHING: Quickly steam or boil the asparagus and then toss them in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Serve these asparagus as a cold vegetable on a vegetable plate for dipping or serve them in a flower vase as an attractive appetizer.
• STIR-FRYING: angle cut the asparagus and stir fry in a little olive oil and chopped garlic.
• ROASTING: toss in a little olive oil, lay the spears out on a baking pan, and roast in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, turning several times.
• BARBEQUING: toss in a little olive oil, put on the grill, turn very frequently. They will cook in about 6 to 12 minutes depending on your preference for a crunchy or soft texture.
• RAW: cut asparagus into pieces, put into a bowl, add some thinly sliced onion, and marinate in the refrigerator using apple cider vinegar, canola oil, garlic, salt and pepper.