March Asparagus Madness – Tis’ The Season!

March
Asparagus Madness!!  Tis’ The Season.

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Asparagus spears are the young
shoots of what would grow to be a giant fern-like plant if we didn’t eat them.
They take a lot of time (3 to 4 years to produce from the day the seed is
planted) and space (several square feet per plant) to grow; thus their exalted
status as a luxury vegetable.

Kinds of
Asparagus:
Most asparagus in the U.S. is green,
with some tender and sweet purple varieties popping up every now and again.

Asparagus Season: Asparagus
is harvested from March through June.

Note: that
thickness in no way indicates tenderness, which is related to how the plant is
grown and how soon it is eaten after harvest rather than spear size. Poorly or
long-stored thin asparagus can be tough and flavorless; fresh, fat spears can
be remarkably sweet and tender.

Buying
Asparagus: 
Buy asparagus as soon as possible after it is harvested. Farmers
markets
 and stores that buy from local growers are your best
bets for extra tender specimens. Look for smooth skin, bright green color,
compact heads, and freshly cut ends. Look for asparagus that is as green (or
purple or white in the case of purple and white varieties) as possible to up
your chances as biting into tender spears.

Note: that 1 pound of asparagus is
usually between 12 and 15 spears,
will make 2 to 4 servings, and yields about 3 cups of cut-up asparagus.

Preparing
Asparagus:
Whether thin or fat, you will need
to trim the
asparagus
 before cooking.
The fastest and easiest way is to hold the ends and bend the
spear until it breaks somewhere in the middle
, everything from the
middle up will be tender enough to eat easily. For less waste and a more
elegant presentation of fatter spears, try peeling
asparagus
.

Cooking
Asparagus: 
Asparagus can be cooked many ways—roastedgrilled,
steamed, boiled, pan-roasted,
fried—and how to prepare it depends as much on your taste as the asparagus.
Generally speaking, though, thinner spears are better for roasting, grilling,
stir-frying, tossing with pasta, and even eating raw in salads. Thicker asparagus is
traditionally left whole, so its tender, meaty texture can be appreciated. Try
it steamed with Olive Oil, or blanched and chilled with a vinaigrette or other
dressing. 

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