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Asparagus, spring delight: how to cook them without errors – Italian Cuisine

The season of the coming is coming asparagus! It is indeed the months from March to June those in which this typical spring vegetable is sold. Delicious and ideal for pairings with delicately flavored foods such as pasta, rice, eggs, fish and white meats, asparagus these days begin to appear on the markets in many different varieties.

Asparagus to be discovered
Large or thin, white, violet and naturally green, of which Italy is a great producer especially in Veneto, Liguria, Emilia Romagna, Campania and Puglia. Let's discover together the main varieties of asparagus with which to delight us at the table.

Green: tasty and variable in size, it is the most common and versatile asparagus in the kitchen. The Green of Altedo Igp is excellent.

White: large, with a gentle taste and renowned for its softness, it is also called "mangiatutto" because it has no waste. Its delicate color originates in cultivation, it grows in fact under the ground and is picked before the top starts from the ground. The pride of Veneto is the white asparagus of Bassano Dop and Cimadolmo Igp.

Violet: colorful and particularly tender, with an intense taste, it is picked as soon as it comes out of the ground. It lends itself perfectly to the preparation of both rustic and delicate dishes. Among the most famous varieties are the violet of Albenga with a buttery consistency without fibrousness Napoli, the violet of Naples and the pink asparagus of Mezzago d’Argenteuil.

Wild: long and thin, it has a rich taste that does not need to be enriched with sauces or too tasty toppings. The end of the stem, earthy and woody, should be removed, the rest should be gently scraped with a small knife or a potato peeler. During cooking, be careful not to break them.

Asparagine: with this term we define the very thin shoots of wild asparagus, ideal for pinzimoni, pies, omelettes and soups.

Mistakes not to be made
There are so many preparations based on asparagus: sophisticated or simple recipes, complicated or easy, all require special care in the preparation and cooking of this particular vegetable. Here are the most common wrong moves to avoid:

Choose them carelessly: when you buy them, check that they are fresh and intact, of a bright color and without dents. Fresh are tough, with the stem that does not bend but – if forced – it breaks. Check that the tips are well closed, upright and crunchy and that the firm but not woody stems have a uniform color, without spots. An extra eye for asparagus in the center of the bunch, because they tend to deteriorate faster.

Do not peel the remaining stem: in theory, once you have measured the asparagus – aligning it on the side of the tip and eliminating the hard part of the stem, on the other side – there would be no need to peel the part that remained attached to the tip. Mistaken. Tender inside, even the thin wild asparagus can be fibrous on the outside: arm yourself with potato peeler or a paring knife, and scrape it from the tip (excluding it) towards the stem, with a very light hand (you will not want to find yourself with asparagus in julienne!) .

Do not use the asparagus: tall and narrow, equipped with a basket and lid, the asparagus is the pot designed specifically for asparagus. For an optimal cooking they must be placed in the basket, closed in bunches and with the points facing upwards; the water in the pot should reach only half of the stem and do not forget the lid: in this way the stems will boil while the tips, softer, will steam, remaining more crispy. They will be ready when they "bow their heads". Alternatively, cook them lying down with steam, with a little water, checking the cooking because when the tips are ready the thicker stems will be a little behind.

Use the same cooking for all preparations: we saw that the asparagus is perfect for a perfect cooking. Choose it sand you want to cook the asparagus to serve them whole as a side dish, perhaps accompanied by a hollandaise sauce, the Venetian one with mimosa eggs or the classic fried egg, with melted butter and flaked Parmesan. For risotto, creams, mousses, velvety, pies, omelettes, salads or pinzimoni, you can scald them just in salt water if they are thick; but don't boil them: they would absorb too much water. Alternatively, use them uncooked: pass them in a pan after having cut the stems into slices, leaving only the tips whole and proceed with cooking, remembering to start with the washers and join the tips only later. Wild asparagus and asparagine, even if thin, should always be scalded. Remember that white asparagus is preferable to steam them, because if boiled they would absorb too much water due to their particular softness.

Throw away the scraps: don't make the mistake of throwing the eliminated stems; wash them, peel them and boil them in salted water or vegetable broth for about twenty minutes. Once cooked, you can blend them directly in the broth: it will be perfect to prepare an excellent risotto. Alternatively you can drain them and then blend them with a little butter and grated Parmesan, checking the density of the mixture by adding 1 boiled potato and a few tablespoons of the cooking broth: the cream obtained is a greedy one seasoning for pasta or, if you stretch it more, a particular one velvety, garnished with parmesan flakes, asparagus tips, buttered and some croutons.

Giulia Paganelli
March 2017
updated March 2019 by Claudia Minnella


from asparagus to nettles, 10 ideas for spring – Italian Cuisine

Picnics, outdoor trips and outdoor lunch breaks. This means one thing: it's spring! And it is time for omelettes to be made with peas, asparagus, nettles and …

Who doesn't like the omelette? With this dish at the table it is easy to get everyone to agree, including children.
Here then 10 ideas to prepare it in an imaginative, light and unusual way, especially now that it is spring and that can be a recipe to take to the basket for a picnic or a trip outside the city. First, however, we review the basic recipe for a perfect omelette.

Can you make an omelette?

First use fresh eggs at room temperature. For each person, calculate about two eggs and choose a non-stick pan suitable for the set quantity. For an omelette of 4 eggs, opt for a pan not too big because the omelette must have a little thickness.
The first step is to break the eggs and beat them inside a bowl simply using a fork. The secret is coarsely mix the eggs without mounting them. Add salt and pepper and the mixture, if desired, is ready to be cooked.
If you want to add flavor, add it too a goccino of milk, some chopped parsley and a bit of grated Parmesan.
Then grease a non-stick pan with a little extra virgin olive oil and allow it to warm up well before adding the liquid mixture. Cook for a few minutes on one side and then with the help of a flat plate or a lid overturned the omelette on the other side. If it sticks to the bottom, help yourself with a silicone spatula.

Baked omelette

If a thousand times in your life you have prepared unpresentable omelettes because you are not skilled in the difficult art of reversal of the omelette, then our advice is to prepare it in the oven.
Just pour the mixture into a baking dish covered with parchment paper and cook at 180 ° for about 15-20 minutes.
The result will be slightly different and drier than the classic recipe in the pan, but excellent.

Omelettes with vegetables

A sandwich with omelette it is a complete and tasty meal, better if accompanied by a portion of vegetables.
But yesand the vegetables were already in the omelette? How about? Just choose fresh seasonal products and indulge in mixes and combinations. You must add le to the basic compound cooked and well drained vegetables of their oil. You can also use simply steamed vegetables, like potatoes, carrots and courgettes or even leafy vegetables, but remember that they must always be very dry. Are you in a hurry? Coarsely chop onions, courgettes and carrots and cook them raw in the omelette or use small tomatoes, dried tomatoes in oil, mozzarella or diced ham to bring a rich but easy and quick second course.

10 spring omelettes

Now take a look at the our gallery to find some inspiration for your spring omelettes. Ten perfect ideas for a lunch break at the park.

Ten recipes with asparagus – Italian Cuisine

The asparagus they are a typical spring vegetable: they are found on the market from March to June. There are more than 200 varieties, different in color, size and taste. The best known are the white ones of Bassano del Grappa and Verona, the green one of Altedo PGI, the Neapolitan violet.

Cultivated since the Egyptians, they have diuretic properties and contain very few fats, so they are indicated in slimming diets. They also contain lots of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium and are rich in vitamin A.

Cappelletti with asparagus with fondue
Cappelletti with asparagus with fondue.

How to clean

The asparagus have a woody part at the end of the stem that has to be removed by cutting it with a sharp knife. If the stem is still very hard or old, it should be cut up to 4 cm below the tip.

How to cook

The most common way to cook asparagus is to boil them. They are placed in a rather tall and narrow pot, filled with water up to the level of the shoots. These, softer than the stem, cook only with steam. For a more crunchy result, you can directly steam them, flavoring the water with lemon zest.

The recipes with asparagus cooked by La Cucina Italiana