People have long used Asparagus both as a culinary product and a medicinal source for its unique but versatile flavor as well as its diuretic characteristics. As a delicacy, Asparagus is famous for its fine texture and delicate taste, especially at its needle-like tips.
In fact, people love the tips of Asparagus shoots so much that it has garnered the names “queen of vegetables” and the endearing French term, “points d’amour.”
However, no matter how one chooses to address Asparagus, you surely cannot deny its versatile nature. Whether you eat it raw, steam it, sauté, grill, or cook Asparagus the French way a la Julia Child, its presence is always a highlight at any table.
First things first, though. What does this much-loved vegetable taste like?
What Does Asparagus Taste Like?
When fresh, Asparagus carries a mild flavor with earthy nuances, complemented by a fresh, succulent, and crisp bite.
This taste quite distinct and specific to Asparagus, although you can say it’s somewhat similar to broccoli and green beans with a slightly stronger salty and bitter flavor. It’s quite apt, though, that some have resorted to describing the flavor as the taste of spring.
Remarkably, many turn away this prized vegetable supposedly for its sour and bitter taste.
The reaction isn’t unwarranted, though. When past its prime or when you overcook it, Asparagus’ flavor profile does indeed change for the worse. Sadly, many people miss out on this delicious vegetable due to improper preparation or harvest.
Asparagus On The Side
Personal opinions aside, most would agree that Asparagus is a wonderful companion vegetable. No, not in the filial sense, but in the culinary context.
Asparagus shares a similar trait to mushrooms where they have this incredible ability to blend beautifully with other ingredients and flavors.
Unlike stronger tastes that dominate and lead a dish, Asparagus somehow uplifts and improves the overall flavor, complementing an entree more than overwhelming it. This enhancing trait makes Asparagus a lovely choice as a side dish.
Is Asparagus Good For Me?
- Absolutely. As a matter of fact, Asparagus is one of the most nutritional vegetables you can eat.
- If you’re a health nut, for instance, you’d love to know that Asparagus has minimal calories, only traces of sodium, and has virtually no fat. It’s full of antioxidants and is also rich in folic acid which is vital for the formation and growth of blood cells.
- Additionally, Asparagus is a great source of potassium, iron, and a whole spectrum of vitamins. One cup of Asparagus will contain 70% of your daily Vitamin K allowance. The spring vegetable helps digestion too since it’ is high in fiber content.
- Lastly, despite its weird effect on your pee’s smell, Asparagus’ natural diuretic properties makes it beneficial for your urinary tract.
Picking Asparagus At The Market
For you to get the most out of Asparagus, make sure you get this quaint vegetable, or at least the bulk of your supply, during early springtime.
In the U.S., that period would be around March, and it’s when farmers will be selling their first crops at the farmer’s market. Take note as well that asparagus may come it three different color shades. The most famous of course would be the bright green variety. However, there are also purple varieties as well as cream or off-white stalks.
The latter type is the Asparagus that farmers grew underground. Because of this planting scheme, chlorophyll was hindered from developing thereby inhibiting the familiar green color.
When you do find yourself at the market, pick the Asparagus that have firm and not limp stems. Also, make sure the buds on the tips are compact and fully-closed. Avoid stalks that have browned and look woody.
Lastly, avoid the common misconception that the size of Asparagus is indicative of flavor, or quality. Both thick and thin stalks can be delicious if you choose and prepare them correctly.
Thick spears, however, lean towards more tenderness with more moisture. These traits make them perfect for broiling, grilling, and also pan-frying.
On the other hand, thin spears are typically firmer and less watery. They do, however, contain a more concentrated flavor than thick spears. As such, it would be best for you to eat them raw, sautéed, or blanched.
Bow To the Queen Of Vegetables
We’re hoping that we’ve enlightened you by this short guide on much-loved and much-coveted spring vegetable, the Asparagus.
Not only is it a delicious treat and an excellent complement to a wide variety of food, but it’s also a nutritionally-dense food that is a welcome addition to any healthy diet.