Wednesday, May 12, 2010
It's in season.
Traditionally matched with hollandaise sauce, asparagus picked just a day or so ago (try your nearest farmers' market) requires minimal messing with. Enjoy it with a drizzle of olive oil, a twist of black pepper and perhaps a few shavings of Parmesan cheese.
Asparagus contains more folic acid than any other vegetable. It also a source of fibre, potassium, vitamins A and C and glutathione, a phytochemical with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.
Look for firm but tender stalks with good colour and closed tips. Smaller, thinner stalks are not necessarily more tender; in fact thicker specimens are often better due to the smaller ratio of skin to volume.
Once picked, asparagus rapidly loses flavour and tenderness, so it really is worth eating it on the day you buy it. If that isn't possible, store asparagus in the fridge with a damp paper towel wrapped around the bottom of the stalks and you can get away with keeping it for a couple of days.
Wash in cold water and remove the bottom ends of the stalks (with fresh asparagus they will snap off cleanly). Boil or steam quickly until just tender, around 4 to 7 minutes depending on thickness. Using an inexpensive asparagus steamer will help ensure perfect results as it cooks the stalk bottoms more quickly than the delicate tips.