Asparagus is a sweet and nutty flavored vegetable that is as versatile in color as it can be in serving styles.
There are three types of asparagus widely available in grocery and specialty stores today.
1. Green Asparagus, this is the traditional type of asparagus that can be found sold in bunches of either young thin and tender spears or older heartier thick spears.
2. Purple Asparagus, this newer variety is a deeply colored asparagus that requires special techniques when cooking. For purple asparagus to retain its distinctive purple color it must be cooked with some sort of acidity such as lemon juice or vinegar.
3. White Asparagus is nothing more than green asparagus that was covered with soil during the growing season. By covering the asparagus with soil chlorophyll is not produced by the plant. White asparagus while delightful as an alternative is less sweet and not as tender as its green counter part.
When buying any of the three varieties look for fresh tender asparagus. Follow your nose, sniff the asparagus if it has a strange or musty smell it is not fresh. Also look at the ends of the asparagus. The ends should be moist and free of mold. If the ends are exposed to air in the store then bring them home and cut about 1 inch off the bottom. Then stand the spears up in about 1 inch of water and store in the refrigerator for up to three days.
Cooking asparagus is easy, fresh young asparagus can be boiled, steamed, grilled, sautéed, roasted, or eaten raw in salads. Steaming and raw will retain the most amount of nutrients while grilling sautéing and roasting will bring out a unique sweet nutty flavor.