Asparagus happiness

by Lesley on April 8, 2008 · 7 comments

in food

I hit up the farmer’s market Sunday morning with Lori and Rachel, and got really excited for several reasons. 1. That I had actually gotten up early enough to go. (It’s been my intention to visit every weekend but it’s rare I make it). 2. Lori was visiting so I got to hang out with her! Sweet! 3. All the freshness, color and people just make me happy to be alive. I know that sounds cheesy and I don’t care. 4. Soon, the farmer’s market will be back downtown on Wednesdays, and I can walk there at lunch to shop! 5. It’s asparagus season! And that, my friends, is the happiest thing of all.

I love asparagus. A lot of people do. Jonathan does. His dad does. Lori does. Maybe even you. If you do, then you’ll care about these tips I’ve decided to share, courtesy of the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and this month’s issue of Real Simple:

?Once you plant your first asparagus seeds, you have to wait THREE entire years for a harvest.
?Asparagus grows so fast that its spears must be cut everyday
?Of all familiar vegetables, the season for local, fresh asparagus is the shortest because the plant needs an entire summer to store up enough starch for the next year. Unlike other plants that simply die at the end of the season, asparagus ends only when the grower decides. But a smart grower realizes that by stopping the harvest, a better crop will emerge the next year. So, all that translates to: enjoy the fresh asparagus now while it’s in season!
?Asparagus is best eaten the day it is cut.
?To pick a good bunch, look for firm and straight stems, with the buds tightly closed. Look for bright green coloring and avoid spears that are shriveled or wet or have thick, woody stalks.
?To store, wrap the cut ends in a damp paper towel and keep in the fridge for no more than three days. For peak flavor, eat as soon as possible.
?Asparagus is good raw, blanched or roasted. I make mine on the stove with olive oil and salt.

As Barbara Kingsolver says, “Respecting the dignity of a spectacular food means enjoying it at its best.” It sounds a little dramatic, but after we ate our asparagus last night, I believe it. The asparagus had been cut only the night before, so it was fresh and perfect… flavorful and delicious.

Here’s to a perfect, asparagus filled month!

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