How to cook white asparagus and what recipes you can make with it
Tips for choosing the best Vegetable Recipes from Navarra’s orchard
From now until the end of May, it is the season in Spain to enjoy asparagus covered by the PGI ”Asparagus of Navarra”, a unique asparagus with a white color, soft texture, little or no fibrousness and a perfect balance of bitterness.ldquo;Asparagus of Navarra”, a unique asparagus of white color, soft texture, little or no fibrousness and a perfect balance in terms of bitterness on the palate.
Now is the time to consume it fresh, in a simple way or in daring preparations, taking advantage of its optimum consumption season and with the guarantee of its numbered back label that guarantees the quality, certified by the Navarre Institute of Food Technologies and Infrastructures (INTIA).
The harvesting is 100% manual within the IGP Asparagus of Navarra, which includes 43 municipalities in Aragon, 38 in La Rioja and 176 in Navarra, where they take advantage of the cold nights and the quality of the water in the area to achieve the white stalk of the asparagus, which is grown on ridges so that they do not get sunlight and turn green.
White asparagus is a healthy food
Navarre asparagus is the best example of a healthy diet, a unique seasonal product full of beneficial properties for those who consume it.
Navarre asparagus is high in thiamine, riboflavin, niacin and α-tocopherol (vitamin E), a natural antioxidant that plays an essential role in the development and maintenance of the central nervous system, peripheral nerves and muscles of children and adults.
It is currently being studied for its influence on the cardiovascular risk profile as well as its inhibitory actions on the growth of leukemia cells. In addition, asparagus has a very characteristic active substance, asparagine, a volatile substance that enhances the diuretic effect of asparagus helping in the case of fluid retention or hypertension associated with overweight.
The low energy content of asparagus allows us to include it in low-calorie diets, as it has practically no fats or carbohydrates. In addition, its fiber content is very important, as well as vitamins and minerals.
From the end of March until June, fresh white asparagus can be found in the markets in bulk or in bunches and peeled in heat-sealed trays so that they do not lose their texture.
At the market we can also find canned asparagus from Navarra throughout the year. It is marketed in three different formats:
Enter: Length over 12 cm; Short: Length between 7 and 12 cm; Yolks: Length between 2 and 7 cm;
The presentation format shall be conveniently indicated on the packaging, which may be glass, tinplate or aluminum. This should also include the size, which indicates the thickness of the asparagus and has the following equivalence:
Extra thick: ∅> 19 mm Very thick: 14 Thick: 11 Medium: 9 When choosing a canned asparagus we must look carefully to make sure that what we are buying is really asparagus from Navarra. To do this we can follow the following recommendations.
To begin with, do not get carried away just by the brand name, as it may allude to terms such as Navarra, Tudela, Mendavia or present images or symbols related to that geographical area in the logo, but then it turns out that the asparagus comes from another country.
To be sure of the origin of the product you should read the small print. If they are Spanish you will see that it says “Cultivated in” and the name of the community but if it is foreign you will see “Origin” and the name of the country of origin.
In addition, Navarre Asparagus has a Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) that protects the authenticity of the product by giving a seal to this vegetable when it is grown and packaged in our country.
How to cook white asparagus
Photo: Clara Villalón
At this time of year, being able to consume fresh white asparagus is a real treat. In addition, its preparation at home is extremely simple. To cook them we only need water, salt, a little sugar and twine.
The first thing we will do is rinse the asparagus and dry them well to remove any dirt they may bring.
The next step is to peel them with the help of a vegetable peeler that we will slide from the beginning of the stalk -just below the bud- to the end of it.
Then we will remove the final part of the stem, which is much harder and woody. It is not necessary to use a knife, to separate the hard part it will be enough to hold the asparagus with one hand about 8 centimeters from the end and with the other hand take the end of the stem and make a bending movement so that the asparagus itself will break in the right place.
Then, we make a bunch with all the asparagus placed in the same direction and we tie it by giving them a few turns with the bridle twine.
In a pot high enough to be able to put the asparagus upright so that only the yolks remain out of the water, bring water to a boil and add half a teaspoon of salt and a quarter teaspoon of sugar per liter of water.
When the water starts to boil, lower the heat a little so that it keeps a light boil but does not come to a gushing boil. At that moment, we introduce the asparagus, we wait for the boiling to recover and we let them cook for about 12-15 minutes depending on the thickness. You have to check by pricking with a fork to see the point because if you overcook them they will lose a lot of flavor.
To finish cooking, remove the pot from the heat, lay down the bunch so that it is completely submerged and wait 7 to 10 minutes more for the yolks to finish cooking with the residual heat.
Remove the asparagus from the water and place them on paper towels to drain. Although we are used to consume them at room temperature, they can also be consumed warm and are even more delicious.
The cooking broth of the asparagus can be used to prepare soups, stews, rice…
Some recipes you can make with white asparagus
We can use asparagus in recipes other than salads. Alone or accompanied by sauces such as mayonnaise, hollandaise or muslin (hollandaise sauce to which cream is added) they are a perfect starter even for a celebratory meal, but they can also be the star ingredient of more elaborate dishes such as:
This cream of asparagus with bacon, a very simple recipe to prepare at home, especially if we have at hand some food processor.
Or this other cream of asparagus with jerky and cured egg yolk that we suggested you to make it with canned asparagus, but you can do the same way with fresh asparagus previously cooked as we have explained above.
Also with extra-thick canned asparagus -or with some fresh ones that are of good size-, we propose this recipe of asparagus stuffed with prawns and volandeiras, a recipe with which we can succeed at any time of the year.