Asparagus is available year round, or almost year round, on grocery store shelves. If they come mostly from Peru, China or the United States, they are at their best in the spring when those from Quebec finally arrive.
And right now, they don’t need much work to be appreciated on the plates as they are so delicate and tasty.
Here’s everything you need to know about cooking and storing asparagus and our recipe suggestions for making the most of it.
- Different colors of asparagus
- Which asparagus to buy?
- How to store asparagus properly?
- How to cook asparagus ?
- Winning combinations with asparagus
- 4 recipes to cook asparagus differently
Different colors of asparagus
There are no less than 300 species of asparagus, but the most popular here are the green ones, followed by white asparagus.
Why white asparagus? Their color, or rather its absence, comes from the fact that they are cultivated in the dark, covered with earth. They have a softer and sweeter taste but are also more expensive.
Which asparagus to buy?
Here are some tips for selecting the freshest asparagus possible when you buy it.
Choose asparagus wich have:
- firm and brittle stems;
- brightly colored heads.
Avoid asparagus with:
- yellowish or wilted stems;
- heads that are starting to bloom.
How to store asparagus properly?
Back at home, asparagus can be stored for a few days in the refrigerator.
To keep them as long as possible, you can wrap the base of the stems with a damp cloth or paper towel and place it in a perforated plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Asparagus can also be placed in a jar filled with a little water, such as a small Mason jar, and covered with a plastic bag.
How to cook asparagus ?
Asparagus are usually eaten cooked and can be served hot or cold.
Trimming and cooking asparagus
Before you start, remove the base of the stems which is the hard and fibrous part of the asparagus.
Not sure where to cut the stem? Bend the asparagus stalk until it breaks on its own.
When the asparagus is larger and fibrous, it can also be peeled with a peeler. However, you must be patient!
What are the best cooking methods for asparagus?
There are several ways to cook asparagus.
They can be steamed or blanched for a few minutes, roasted in the oven with a little olive oil and salt or grilled on the barbecue.
Asparagus can also be sautéed in a pan.
For a beautiful presentation, they can also be cut into ribbons and added to pizzas, focaccias or quiches.
Useful accessories for cooking asparagus
- Choose asparagus of the same size for even cooking.
- Avoid overcooking them to prevent them from becoming soft and losing their flavor and color. You want asparagus that are tender but still firm.
- If the asparagus are to be eaten cold, they should be plunged immediately into cold water to stop the cooking process.
Winning combinations with asparagus
Asparagus spears already have a lot of flavour on its own, so avoid masking it with too much spice.
A drizzle of olive oil, a little salt, lemon or garlic and you’re done.
Asparagus can be eaten in salads, mashed potatoes, quiches, omelettes, risottos or soups.
They are also delicious with a glass of chilled Riesling!