13 June, 2011

Asparagus Week

It's the quintessential spring time food - Asparagus.

A fern poking from the ground. Fields that look like dirt with some random spikes reaching for the sunshine. The taste of green, of peas, of spring. The marking of the season in a land where winter lasts for bloody ever.

This week I'm going to showcase one of my favourite foods. Asparagus recipes, tips, and links.

Growing Asparagus

Here on the Prairies asparagus grows. Some might even argue that it thrives, if you treat it right and treat it as a perenial. That means you treasure it in the spring then let it rest. It goes to fern, filling the fields with a froth of green, over the summer. It survives the winter, it really does.

It takes 3 years for an asparagus crown to produce edible product. That means 3 years of patience and care. Then, with annual tenderness you have a lifetime of asparagus. Or, if you were my Mom's family, a lifetime of front yard decoration.

Picking Asparagus

Pick the stalks right from the ground. Let them be at least 6-8 inches tall before you snap them.

If you have the pleasure of visiting an asparagus farm, make sure you check out their pickers. These low-riders will take you throw the fields, saving your back, as pickers gather precious bunches for us lucky consumers.

Eating Asparagus

Contrary to expectations, you can easily and enjoyably eat asparagus raw. It tastes mildly of peas when raw (which means that is my least favourite way to eat it).

Often grown in sandy soil, asparagus can carry dirt to the dinner table. Fill your sink with some cool water and swish the stalks around to loosen any sand and dirt. If your asparagus has been sitting around for a bit then cut off the bottom ends and cook away. If your asparagus is fresh then don't bother trimming off the ends and wasting that precious veg.

The most important thing with asparagus, like nearly any vegetable, is to NOT overcook it. Steam it for a few minutes, grill it, roast it, or even boil it. Just don't overdo it.

Asparagus TypesItalic

With a slight tinge of purple on the heads, green asparagus is the most common kind we see.

More frequently, however, we see white asparagus in the markets and on menus. White asparagus isn't actually any different of a plant. It it regular asparagus that grows covered by dirt. That means that the plants are denied light and do not colour.

Sometimes you can find purple asparagus, although it is rare.

The rest of this week I will share with you three new recipes from me for asparagus as well as some links for more gorgeous recipes. Grab a spear and enjoy.

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