When you say spring, you think to asparagus
Asparagus is an extraordinary plant, coming from Mesopotamia and widely spread also in Italy; it is cultivated especially in Campania, Lazio, Veneto, Liguria, Piedmont and Emilia-Romagna.
In the past it was cultivated in the Mediterranean Sea by the Egyptian, in Asia Minor and in Spain.
The roman emperors, since the 200 BC, built specific ships to collect them, and it seems that they were already called asparagus.
France begins to cultivate it in the XV century and England in the XVI century; after years also North America started to use asparagus.
The Egyptians already knew the benefits and the detox properties of the asparagus. In fact they have low calorie count, about 25 in 100 gr – and are rich in mineral salts, C, B and E vitamins.
There are about 200 asparagus varieties.
The most common are: the white variety that grows underground and has a delicate taste. The violet variety, with a fruity-bitter taste, which colour is given by the photosynthesis process; the green asparagus, most common and known. Finally the wild one with a strong taste that grows spontaneous and thin, with a homogeneous colour; this type is perfect for omelettes and soups.
The cleaning of the asparagus
Before cooking the asparagus, it is necessary to clean them, trying to not eliminate the best parts. The edible part is characterized by the “turione”: the buds of the plant. Cut the woody and tough part and then with a potato peeler, peel the 2/3 of the stem. Now, it is important to wash the asparagus under running water brushing them with the fingers for at least 15 minutes. After that, drain them carefully in order to remove all the water.
Cooking the asparagus
The ideal cooking of the asparagus’ stem is under water or steamed for the buds. For this reason it is used to cook to the asparagus vertically and tied, in a high and narrow pot or the so-called “asparagiera”. The tops have not to be soaked in the water, but only covered because being pretty delicate they have to be cooked with the steam.
In Italy the green asparagus are often boiled and then sautéed in a pan, with butter and Parmesan. Moreover they can be paired with hard-boiled eggs.
For the first course, the asparagus are perfect both with rice and pasta, but also for only-one dishes such as turnovers or savoury pies.
They can be preserved in the fridge for 4 days rounded in a humid dishtowel.