Spring is the ideal time to eat the best asparagus. Light, healthy and refined, they are suited for simple, fresh and greedy pleasure. Here is some information on how to select, store and cook them.
A bit of a history
In the Mediterranean region where asparagus come from, the Egyptians and the Greeks already used them for their contraceptive and aphrodisiacs virtues. The Greeks dedicated this plant to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. The Romans initiated its cultivation and as from the Renaissance, asparagus found a treasured place in the vegetable gardens. Some varieties contributed to build the reputation of soils as Mechelen or Leuven.
White asparagus are grown covered in sand mounds. They are harvested just before the buds come out of the ground. Protected against light, they are nice pearly white and particularly mild. Green asparagus are white asparagus that have been exposed to light. Their taste is stronger and more bitter. There are many varieties of asparagus. If most of the varieties produce indifferently white and green asparagus, they have different sizes. Tasty and thick, the white asparagus Delhaize Taste of Inspirations are specifically grown for Delhaize. The early white asparagus in bunch and the Belgian extra white asparagus are selected for their taste and freshness. The fine white asparagus 365 are more affordable and the baby white asparagus have a light taste. Discover the baby green asparagus and the green asparagus in bunch. Low-calorie, rich in fibers and thus improving transit time, the asparagus is also diuretic and rich in vitamin C. It also contains phosphorus and vitamins of B group.
Selection and storage
The asparagus in your store have already been carefully selected. They are straight and smooth, with firm and tight tips. The ends are not too dried nor too dark, proof of the best quality. Ideally, they should be consumed soon after purchase. But you may store them for 2 days in the refrigerator crisper, wrapped, tips up in a damp cloth.
In the kitchen
Remove the end of the asparagus spears by holding the asparagus with both hands and bending gently. The end will snap off at its natural breaking point. Peel the white asparagus on a table from tip to end with a vegetable peeler. There is no need to peel green asparagus. Cook them rapidly. Steaming is preferable. If you choose boiling, put them, tied in a bunch, in salted boiling water so that the tips are not immersed in water. Then, plunge them into a bowl of cold water and ice cubes to stop the cooking and drain. The asparagus is delicious when fried, grilled over low heat or raw. Its bitterness goes well with the fat of the egg, butter, cured meats, smoked fish or parmesan but also with the acidity of lemon or fine vinegar. The green asparagus is fond of hazelnuts and grilled peanuts.
White asparagus on the Flemish way
Time: 25 min. For 6 people
1,5 kg (3 lb 5 oz) of white asparagus – 3 eggs – 150 g (5.30 oz) of butter – ½ bunch of flat-leaf parsley – the juice of 1 lemon – salt – ground black pepper
1. Break the end of the asparagus and peel them with a vegetable peeler. Tie them with a kitchen twine in order to make a bundle. Plunge the asparagus into a deep pan filled with cold water. Add some salt. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the asparagus. Take the bundles out of the water and leave to drain.
2. Cook the hard-boiled eggs. Shell them and mash them with a fork. Chop the parsley. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the lemon juice. Whisk the preparation. Remove from heat and add some salt and pepper. Add the hard-boiled eggs and the chopped parsley. Mix.
3. Spread the asparagus on the plates and coat them with sauce.
Nutritional value per serving
261 kcal – 7.6 g (0.27 oz) of protein – 23.4 g (0.82 oz) of fat – 6.1 g (0.21 oz) of carbohydrates
Which wine to choose?
Douro Altano 2012 White
The Symington family, best known for her port wines, also produces wines such as those from Altano, in the Douro valley. This white wine is perfect to accompany asparagus
This article was initially published in Belgium’s Delhaize Magazine of April-May 2014.
Extracts of the article were used for this posting.