01 April 2015
Asparagus: a very versatile vegetable
Boiled asparagus, egg, ham and Hollandaise sauce is a classic combination that is absolutely delicious, but you can do so much more with asparagus. By making the most of the various preparation methods possible with the Big Green Egg, you can continue serving up different asparagus dishes. Allow yourself to be surprised by these wonderful asparagus recipes from Ralph de Kok.
Asparagus, healthy and tasty!
The asparagus is a centuries old vegetable that is highly anticipated every year. Its taste is unrivalled and an additional benefit is that this slender vegetable is incredibly healthy. The season is relatively short, so be sure to regularly include and enjoy this tasty and healthy queen of vegetables!
The history of the asparagus dates back thousands of years. It is not known exactly when the wild asparagus was first consumed, but the white cultivated variation was common in ancient Egypt. This apparent from illustrations of bunches of asparagus in age-old pyramids. The Romans and ancient Greeks were also fond of this tasty vegetable, the latter focusing predominantly on the healing properties of the asparagus, to which the Latin name, Asparagus Officinalis, refers.
Asparagine, the amino acid that occurs in asparagus, may have a beneficial effect on low blood pressure, impaired renal function, heart palpitations and liver conditions, amongst others. In addition, the asparagus possesses blood-cleansing properties and is a valuable source of vitamins and minerals. But above all, the asparagus is tasty and incredibly versatile.
Ready for the customer
Asparagus are now widely grown and consumed. In terms of cultivation, the soil quality and location of asparagus fields are of importance. Asparagus only start growing when a soil temperature of 11°C is reached and they flourish in well-drained, sandy soil, in which the shoots of the rhizome (the asparagus) can find their way to the surface effectively and without too much resistance.
When the asparagus have almost reached the surface and cause fissures in the soil, they are picked immediately, because once the tips are exposed to light, undesirable discolouration occurs. To prevent this discolouration, asparagus are soaked in cold water for a prolonged period after harvesting. This halts growth and rinses off any adhering sand. Once the fresh asparagus have been sorted, they are ready for the customer.
Green asparagus are an exception. Botanically, there is no difference, but because green asparagus are allowed to grow above the surface of the soil, they discolour. Thus, green asparagus have a more intense flavour, because they contain less moisture than white asparagus.
The bulk of asparagus are grown outdoors, therefore the season cannot be controlled; at best it is aided somewhat by covering the asparagus beds with tarpaulins. When laid so that the dark side faces upwards, heat is absorbed, which provides extra warmth. The light side reflects heat and prevents the asparagus from burning.
Once the season has started, asparagus are enjoyed to the full. Do not store asparagus for more than a few days; the fresher they are, the less moisture loss occurs and the better the taste. Asparagus are best enjoyed fresh. The base of the asparagus spear provides a good indication; the drier this is, the less fresh the asparagus and the more that will need to be trimmed off. Naturally, we do not throw these away, but use the trimmed ends along with the peel as the base for a delicious soup. And the virginal white spears themselves? There are many ways to prepare those on the Big Green Egg!
Thinking of preparing asparagus on the Big Green Egg? Give these 3 recipes a try!