Food & Wellnes Articles

Cooking In Season: Asparagus

These succulent spears is one of the most welcome signs of spring. The best asparagus is local asparagus. In Canada, asparagus is harvested and sold late spring through June. You will be compensated with optimal sweet and grassy flavours of asparagus while its in season that you won’t taste any other time of year.

Asparagus can be grown from seed, but it takes an average of 3 years until you get a full crop. Most people begin with 1-year-old crowns, or roots, purchased from a garden centre. A plant started from roots will be ready to begin harvesting the second spring. Asparagus plants can last a lifetime, producing tasty spears every spring.

Preparing Prepare fresh asparagus by first breaking off the butt end of each spear where it snaps easily. An easy way to do this, is to grab several spears at once, grasping the stems in one hand and the bottoms in the other. Bend the asparagus spears. An asparagus will naturally break (more or less) where the woody part ends and tender part begins. The woody bases can be saved and used for soup stock. Wash the stalks thoroughly and carefully to remove any sand from under scales.

Basic Simmered or Steamed Asparagus To simmer asparagus, lay them down in a skillet that can hold the spears without crowding, cover with water, cover the skillet, and turn the heat to high. Cook just until the thick part of the stalks can be pierced with a knife.

Steaming asparagus is basic but it doesn’t matter how you cook the stalks, as long as you leave them just a little crisp – not so crisp that they crunch when you bite them, but not too soggy that they begin to fall apart. To steam asparagus, stand them up in a pot with an inch of water on the bottom. Cover and turn the heat to high. You know asparagus are done when you can easily insert a skewer or a thin-bladed knife into the thickest part of the stalk.

Storage Store, wrapped loosely in plastic, in the refrigerator. Use as soon as possible to avoid the spears from going limp after prolonged storage.

– – Recipe Alert!

Click HERE to get the recipe for a classic CREAM OF ASPARAGUS SOUP. Made from crisp stalks of asparagus and a rich cashew cream, this soup is a light, simple, and utterly delicious way to bridge the changing of the seasons.

©Photography by Diana Muresan, Contributor

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