Are you team asparagus lover? Yeesss? - In our family asparagus is a true family unifier and my Mum's secret weapon to make everyone pay her a visit between April and May. Her favorite menu - white asparagus with potatoes, a sort of "German Herb Kaiserschmarrn", smoked Black Forest ham (usually subed by a veggie salad by the vegan family members) and a deliciously creamy white sauce hollandaise.
Sound deli? - Then read on, explore the best asparagus recipes out there and learn why eating asparagus isn't only the a true firework for your taste buds but also super good for your health.
Asparagus season highly depends on the weather conditions. Generally it is said that asparagus season starts in April and officially ends on June, 24th (at least in Germany where this date is called the “Asparagus New Year”. Farmers calculate that from this date, there are still roughly 100 days in Germany without ground frost, which is crucial for the asparagus plant to regenerate and restore its energy for the upcoming year).
Asparagus is part of the lily family, just like garlic, spring onions and leek. Experts aren’t sure where asparagus historically originates. Fact is though, that it has become a super popular vegetable, especially in Europe (Germany, France), Western Asia and the United States over the past centuries. In Germany the "premium veggie" is so popular that little little parties - so-called "Spargelfeste" ("Asparagus Fiestas") are hosted during the season in honor of the delicious plant. And the hero over here - clearly white asparagus!
The best news about asparagus to begin with - it is super healthy! The veggie is loaded with nutrients, made up of more than 90% water and therefore super low-calorie. First to mention is it’s high fibre level, relative to the overall calorie count. 100g asparagus contain 2.1g of fibre. This is more than twice the amount you can find in Pak Choi, for example. Fibre overall positively influences our digestive health and overall gut wellbeing.
Moreover, asparagus is particularly rich in iron, selenium, calcium and zinc as well as vitamin A (applies particularly to green asparagus), K and Folate, also known as vitamin B9. Vitamin B9 - amongst many other things - plays a crucial role in the formation of new blood cells.
And last but not least - There is one thing that makes asparagus extra special: Thanks to its relatively high amount of potassium 202mg/100g and the containing asparagusic acid, asparagus stimulates our kidneys, i.e. the natural cleansing mechanisms of our body managed.
Many people think that green and white asparagus are two different types. Yet, the only difference between them two is the cultivation method. While green asparagus grows above the surface, i.e. is exposed to direct sunlight and natural photosynthesis starts, white asparagus grows exclusively beneath the earth and is harvested as soon as it tries to peek out of of the surface. And while growing green asparagus is a fairly hard job, growing white asparagus belongs to the most complex and labor-intensive veggies to grow out there. When white asparagus starts peeking out of the soil, it must be immediately hand-picked, otherwise it losses its beautiful white color - and turns purpilish-dark. Thereafter, the white veggies have to be stored in a dark box to avoid any sort of sunlight exposure.
I'm almost certain that all of you would recognize the difference of green and white asparagus in a bling tasting. White asparagus has a very soft, sometimes slightly fibrous consistency and a mild, oftentimes bitter-sweet taste. In contrast, green asparagus is a little bit more crunchy and typically has a unique mild and earthy flavor.
By the way, if your asparagus tastes very bitter after cooking, the cutting method could be the reason. - Why? If asparagus is cut to close to its root, it may develops a bitter taste after being cooked. Therefore always check the asparagus ends on your veggie shopping trip. If they are super dry, soggy or even moldy, don’t purchase the asparagus. Instead, search for fresh, crunchy and bright green (or white) asparagus stems.
Asparagus is the perfect veggie to serve to any lunch or dinner meal throughout spring season. Generally, you have the option to either water-cook, oven-bake, fry or grill it.
When preparing white asparagus, the “skin peeling” plays a crucial part in the preparation process. If you don’t peel the asparagus completely, you won’t enjoy it as its peel consist of a super fibrous layer that is very hard to bite and swallow. After you’ve completed the peeling, white asparagus is typically cooked in boring water until soft and tender.
Green asparagus is, compared to its white counterpart, super easy to prepare. Start with washing the veggie, then cut off the dry part on the bottom and if you like peel a tiny bit of the stems of. Sometimes the bottom parts are a little bit difficult to bite.
Blanch/ cook green asparagus: Add asparagus to a pot of boiling water, salt, half garlic and a tiny bit of lemon zest and cook for 3-7 min.
Oven-roasted green asparagus: Prepare asparagus according to recipe and bake for 20-25min at 180*C.
If you purchase fresh asparagus and you can’t cook it the same day, place it into the fridge, ideally wrapped in a moist kitchen towel. Depending on its harvest date it should stay fresh for several days or up to a week if recently harvested and stored appropriately.
First, if I had to pick between green and white, I’d always choose green, even though I grew up with the white version. (Please don't tell my Mum though!!) - Why? I love the versatility of green asparagus. Green asparagus, just like many other green veggies, harmonizes perfectly with all kinds of grains, legumes and starchy veggies and calls for a very "light" salsa. In contrast, white asparagus better harmonizes with a rich and creamy buttery sauce I think.
One of my favorite green asparagus recipes is “Easy oriental oven-roasted Asparagus with sweet potato”. Yet, there are many other ways I highly enjoy the green or white veggie with. Here is my list of must-try asparagus dishes:
2. Asparagus-Strawberry Salad
3. White Asparagus Soup
4. Asparagus-Lemon Pasta with Pistachios
I hope you enjoyed this little read on my favorite green seasonal (spring hero) - asparagus Like always, I would love to hear how you prep the seasonal veggie, see your delicious plant creations and share them on my social channels. Hence, make sure to tag me on Instagram, Pinterest or Facebook.
Besides, if you have any feedback for me, questions with regards to the recipe or if you just want to say "hey", comment below or shoot me a personal message through my contact form.
Love & Plants, Karo