Three things you may not know about asparagus
- Asparagus is a member of the lily family, which also includes onions, leeks and garlic.
- Special tall, narrow pots are made specifically to steam asparagus. Look for them at the Bay, Sears and specialty kitchenware stores.
- Asparagus contains a very high amount of folic acid – more than any other vegetable.
Two ways to try asparagus right now
- Steamed with a vinaigrette of oil and sherry vinegar.
- Puréed with sour cream and grated onion in a dip.
One way to serve asparagus to your stylish friends
- It's a food you really can eat with your hands. Traditionally, asparagus is served as a first course with melted butter or hollandaise sauce, and eaten with your fingers, leaving the woody end. A finger bowl with sliced lemon or lime is placed beside each guest.
Three things to look for at the grocery store
- Firm asparagus stalks and dry, purple-tinged closed tips.
- The cut end of asparagus should look fresh, not dried out.
- Thick or thin, the jury's out on which is more tender. If the stalks seem tough, remove the outer layer with a vegetable peeler.
Two types of asparagus to broaden your horizons
- Everyone loves green asparagus, but white asparagus, already a favourite in Europe, is gaining popularity here. There's also a rare purple variety, which is sweeter than green.
One tip you can't live without
- Jamie Oliver, in town recently to promote his new line of T-Fal cookware, loves to dry-grill asparagus. Put your pan on high and grill fresh spears without oil – they'll have a crispy, almost nutty taste. Remove the spears from the pan and lightly season with good olive oil and lemon.