History / Geography
Native to Eurasia.
Ancient Romans would only eat a few wild plants, and asparagus was one of those plants. In the Middle East, wild asparagus was gathered and pickled before eaten. By the Middle Ages, asparagus became a gourmet food in the Mediterranean countries.
By the 1650’s, asparagus was in the top 5 of the most popular vegetables to eat in France. In the 1850’s, Germany began to can asparagus. By the 19th century, when refrigeration became into play, asparagus became a worldwide commodity.
Part of the Lily Family, liliaceae.
There are three types of asparagus: purple, green or white.The green asparagus is the most common. This type has a green stem and a purple tip.
The purple type is called viola.
The white type originated from Argenteuil, France, and is really a green asparagus grown underground!
Asparagus are usually available between February and June, though hothouses in certain areas grow asparagus all year round.
How to Select
Choose your asparagus with a firm stalk, tight tips and a vivid color. The thicker the stalk of the asparagus, the older the plant is. Thinner stalks mean the plant was younger and therefore produces a more tender vegetable.
Store asparagus in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for a maximum of 4 days. If desired, you can sit the asparagus, stem-side down, in 1 inch of water and cover the top with a plastic bag.
Asparagus contains Vitamin A and iron, as well as Vitamins B and C.
Depending on how you are preparing your asparagus and as to what you are serving with it, serve a Pinot Grigio or a Chenin Blanc.
basil, chervil, Herbes de Provence, marjoram, paprika, parsley, savory
6 – 10 spears per individual serving1 pound fresh = 12 – 22 spears = 3 1/2 cups chopped = 2 cups cooked (cut)
Bend each spear of asparagus, and the spear will automatically snap where it needs to. Discard the lower end. With a vegetable peeler, peel off the tough skin of the stalk. Trim off any excess spiky flowers with a knife.
- Stir-Fry: 2 cups of ½ inch slices in 1 tablespoon of oil for 1 minute, then add 2 tablespoons of liquid, cover and cook 2 – 3 minutes.
- Microwave: 1 pound spears + 2 tbsp. water for 4 – 7 minutes
- Boil: spears, 7 – 10 minutes.
- Steam: 8 – 12 minutes.
- Roast: spears, 400 degrees for 20 minutesAsparagus is done when the color is bright and vivid and the stalk is tender when pierced with a fork.
Baked Asparagus Gruyere
- 1-pound asparagus tips
- 1 teaspoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup Gruyere cheese — grated
- 3 tablespoons pine nuts — toasted
- 1-tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4-teaspoon pepper — to taste
- Melt butter in an ovenproof skillet, over a high flame. Arrange asparagus in pan. Add 3 tablespoons water, cover, and steam for 2 minutes sprinkle stems (not tips) with cheese and nuts. Drizzle with oil. Season with pepper.
- Bake, uncovered, @ 350 degrees for 5 minutes, until cheese melts. Remove from oven. Serve hot.
Yields: 4 servings
- 1-pound asparagus
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon chicken bouillon – instant
- 1-tablespoon cornstarch1-tablespoon water – cold
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil1 1/2 cups fresh mushroom – sliced
- 1/8-teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- Cut asparagus into 1″ pieces and steam lightly. Mix 1/2 c water and the dry bouillon; reserve. Mix cornstarch and 1T water; reserve. Heat oil in wok or 12 inch skillet over medium heat. Add asparagus, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Stir-fry about 1 minute. Stir in bouillon mixture and heat to boiling. Stir in cornstarch mixture. Cook and stir until thickened, about 10 seconds. Serve as a side dish or entrée.
Yields: 4 servings
- 2 pounds asparagus
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 tablespoons dill
- 1/4 cup unbleached flour
- 1 cup rice milk
- 1 salt to taste
- Cut potatoes into small pieces. In an approximately 3 qt. saucepan, boil potatoes until extremely tender. While this is happening, wash asparagus. Remove woody ends. Cut into 1″ sections, setting aside tips. Add non-tip sections to potato pot and cook until asparagus has gone beyond bright green to olive green (but not brown). Add dill.
- Asparagus should be soft enough to mash along with potatoes, in the cooking water. Don’t throw out any of the cooking water.
- Lightly brown flour in a small saucepan and allow to cool somewhat before adding rice milk. Add liquid gradually to make a smooth pseudo-roux and add the roux to the soup. Add the asparagus tips and continue cooking the soup just until they are tender and bright green. Salt to taste.
Yields: 2 servings