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From Pee to Purple: All About Asparagus


Asparagus are starting to pile high in produce sections and farmers markets everywhere, and with a couple of quick asparagus recipes in your arsenal, they will soon start to pile high in your refrigerator, too, if they haven't already.

Asparagus Varieties

In the States, we're accustomed to seeing the green, pencil-thin version of asparagus. These skinny asparagus don't need to be peeled. Just break off the woody inch or so at the base, then toss with olive oil and salt and roast for about 35 minutes for a delicious dish of concentrated asparagus flavor.

But green asparagus are not the only kind available. In France, they favor white asparagus, which are generally grown to be much thicker than their green cousins and are delicious steamed and served with hollandaise sauce.

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From the Organic Authority Files

What you may not have yet seen in your farmers market are purple asparagus, whose color comes from high levels of anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants. In addition, these asparagus have a lower fiber content, making them more tender and less fibrous than their white and green counterparts. To prepare purple asparagus, you neither peel nor trim them. Just cook them whole and serve with butter and salt, to best experience their purple color.

Mythbusters: Asparagus Pee

Closely related to members of the lily family, like onions and garlic, asparagus have rumors surrounding their pungent smell, too. Asparagus pee, unfortunately, is not a myth, though some claim not to experience the sulphuric odor after eating a stalk or two. Scientists have concluded that it is actually an absence of the ability to smell this chemical compound, not the absence of the smell itself, but this is no reason not to eat asparagus. Keeping hydrated can help to minimize the scent.

Asparagus Recipes

Asparagus are delicious simply steamed or boiled and served with butter, or roasted in olive oil and salt. But there are dozens of other ways to serve asparagus. Here are some of our favorites:

image:Steve Snodgrass

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