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Asparagus! The white gold.
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Food Food General

Asparagus: everything you need to know about this white gold of spring

You know that spring really has started when the asparagus reappear everywhere. You will not find the white gold more pleasant than now. The ancient Egyptians and Romans already appreciated this special vegetable two centuries before Christ. A timeless classic in the kitchen. Read, buy, cook and enjoy!

A rich history

Did you know that the first signs of asparagus consumption have been discovered in a pyramid in Egypt? The Romans also liked it, as is evident from a knife found in Woerden (Netherlands) in 2003 with an image of an asparagus on it. After the fall of the Roman Empire, this vegetable disappeared from the low countries again. Only since the 17th century have they been reared in France and some other Western European countries. In the Netherlands large-scale asparagus cultivation has been taking place since the 19th century. Especially Limburg is known for it.

White Asparagus on a plate

Medicinal effect

Already in ancient times, the asparagus was given medicinal effect. She was used as a medicine against bee stings, heart problems, dizziness and toothache. Asparagus was also often used as a urinary agent or laxative. With the knowledge from now on we also know why: the asparagine amino acid asparagine does indeed stimulate kidney function. Because of its strong taste, asparagus fits perfectly in a low-salt diet: you do not have to add anything. 

Shapes and sizes

Did you know that in addition to the white and green asparagus, there is also a purple variety? The white ones have grown under the ground and kept out of the light while green and purple asparagus have seen the sun. The purple you hardly ever see, while you can now buy green asparagus almost all year round. These are grown mainly in southern Europe. Our favorite remains the good old white asparagus. How do you know if you are buying good? Asparagus is divided into classes according to thickness and appearance. In general, the thicker the better. Note that there are no cracks or brown spots (rust) on it. If you see that, you better ignore it.
Purple Asparagus with a rope around it on a tab;e

Buy asparagus: what should you pay attention to?

The asparagus season is relatively short, in the middle of Europe about two months. Harvesting takes place from the second Thursday of April until the end of June. You can now buy asparagus at any supermarket or greengrocer, but often directly from the grower.

You can check the freshness of the asparagus yourself in two ways. One: just push your fingernail into the bottom of the asparagus. The spot where the asparagus was cut should not feel woody. Two: rub the asparagus against each other. If they make a soft, squeaky, melodious sound, they are fresh.

Store and prepare

Asparagus must of course be nice and juicy. When buying, make sure that no cracks or brown spots are visible. At home, store your asparagus in a sealed plastic bag or covered with a wet tea towel in the refrigerator. You can keep them fresh for a day or three.

Before you start cooking them, you have to peel the asparagus first. You do that with a special asparagus knife or a peeler. You do not want a badly peeled asparagus on the table, which is stringy and tough. Cooking goes best in a special asparagus pan, in which the asparagus is cooked standing so that the heads do not get under water.

Tip: throw the peels in the pan at the asparagus for an optimal taste. Depending on the thickness they are cooked in 8-10 minutes.

Let’s eat!

Asparagus salad with lemon mayonnaise, watercress and pistachio

Asparagus salad on a plate

What do you need for a asparagus salad?

  • 1 kg of asparagus
  • salt
  • sugar
  • piece of mace
  • 2 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 lemon
  • salt pepper
  • 1 forest watercress
  • peeled unsalted pistachio nuts

How do you make the asparagus salad?

Peel the asparagus from the head all the way down and cut 2 cm from the bottom. Put them up with cold water, salt, some sugar and the mace. Bring them to a boil and cook until tender for about 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave it in the cooking liquid and allow to cool. Mix the mayonnaise with the yogurt and squeeze out the lemon. Add more salt and pepper if desired. Chop the pistachio nuts. Halve the asparagus into oblique pieces. Divide them with a piece of watercress on plates. Spoon the mayonnaise over it and sprinkle with coarsely chopped pistachio nuts.

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