Asparagi-Latin for many asparagus spears, is a springtime vegetable that is green, white, and purple. It has a subtle flavour, depending on the colour of the vegetable. The white asparagus is generally the thickest and least flavorful if served on its own. The purple-coloured asparagus is bolder in flavour than the white and makes an attractive offering on a simple platter served with lemon butter. The green variety is the tastiest.
Generally, they are 6 to 8 inches long and sold in bundles. Pick the best ones-fresh, firm and flawless. Whatever the colour of the vegetable, they all have a white collar at the bottom of the stalk. This is generally the woody end, which can be fibrous and should be cut and discarded—or added to your vegetable broth. You can peel them starting from the tip down. The shelf life is short and it should be stored with a damp kitchen towel if you plan to save it for more than 3 days. Wild asparagus is green and thin, less fibrous but can have a bitter aftertaste. Out of season, asparagus can be woody and lack much flavour.
While asparagus can be served grilled, steamed, poached or well cooked depending on the recipe, it is often cooked for a longer time to break down the fibres when preparing a soup or mousse. When young and tender, crisp asparagus can be cooked for just 5 minutes! Asparagus was traditionally served soft, but like most other vegetables, it is no longer necessary to overcook it.
Asparagus is healthy and nutritious. It has vitamins A, C, and K. It is also considered a food group that helps balance cholesterol, blood pressure, and inflammation.
White and green fresh asparagus some with green, pink and purple tips
An accompaniment to meats, cheese, and seafood, it also pairs well with velvety sauces and pastry. Asparagus continues to be popular for making soups, mousse, salads, and even savoury cheesecakes. Citrus foods like lemon, orange, pomelo, and grapefruit pair particularly well with this delicate vegetable. When serving it soft, you could serve it up with cucumbers, radish, or carrots to compliment the dish.
This vegetable was once considered a delicacy largely associated with French cuisine; asparagus tips are still a delicacy in the gourmet club. Over the years, as palates change, recipes are altered, and trends flourish, this vibrant vegetable has pretty much become part of world cuisine.
Photo courtesy Yashaan Mavalvala and Niloufer Mavalvala
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The World of Parsi Cooking: Food Across Borders is a 3 award winning book. It has been self published in July 2019 and will be going into its second print in 2022.
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