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Asparagus for Spring

Frieda's Specialty Produce - Purple Asparagus

Last week, someone asked me why so many people eat fresh asparagus for Easter. That made me think…

  • Is it because asparagus is a spring vegetable, and Easter usually comes in early spring?
  • Is it because it’s a ritual food, related to the Last Supper (the original Passover/Easter dinner)?
  • Is it because supermarkets always seem to advertise and promote it at Easter, which makes consumers buy it?

Interestingly, asparagus has a long history that goes back to the third century. Its popularity is probably due to its delicate flavor and diuretic properties. (Yes, many people report that their urine smells different after eating asparagus. Here’s an explanation.)

Nutritionally, it’s a low-calorie source of folate and potassium. And did you know that fresh asparagus is available in three colors? Green, white and PURPLE!

White asparagus lacks color because the stalks are protected from the sunlight while they grow, keeping them from turning green (photosynthesis). White asparagus has become more prevalent in recent years, as more of our fresh asparagus is imported seasonally from Peru. You would not believe how much fresh asparagus (in all three colors) is imported from Peru when it’s not available from the USA.

Purple asparagus is available sporadically during the year, coming from California, Michigan and Peru, seasonally. Purple asparagus will lose its color once cooked. So, if you want to dazzle your friends, serve purple asparagus raw. Why not offer a platter of green, white and purple!

My new favorite way of serving green asparagus was taught to me by my sister-in-law, Audrey (our husbands are twins!). Try this as a quick and easy side dish:

Audrey’s Chilled Asparagus Platter

Wash and trim green asparagus. (Peel ends with a potato peeler.) Prepare as much as you want to serve.

Drop whole asparagus spears into boiling water and cook for no more than 3 minutes. IMMEDIATELY immerse cooked asparagus into a bowl of ice water. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. This will stop the cooking process and make your asparagus stay a bright and yummy green.

Arrange asparagus spears on a platter (I like to use an oblong platter and fill it with asparagus). Garnish with halved red grape tomatoes and sprinkle a few sliced almonds on top. Lightly drizzle with a Caesar-type salad dressing and serve cold.

Here’s a hint: Buy twice as much Asparagus as you normally would serve. I have found that everyone will gobble it up because it is so eye-appealing and delicious. I served it for a family dinner for 20 people and there wasn’t enough for me!

So, Happy Easter (April 4) and Happy Passover (March 29). It’s a great season to enjoy asparagus!

Please share your asparagus ideas with me in the comment.


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