Widespread especially in the North-East of Italy, the white asparagus they are much loved for their delicate flavor, so much so that they are often eaten raw, in carpaccio or in salad.
The term "asparagus" or asparagus comes from the Greek "aspharagos", which in turn derives from the Persian"asparagus Cimadolmo"which means sprout. With this word we can refer to the whole plant or to the tip of the same. Among the most famous species, there is that of thewhite asparagus from Bassano which does not take the typical green color thanks to the cultivation technique known as "forcing". Discover all the secrets of Salt & Pepper to buy and cook the best white asparagus!
What is their season?
The best time to appreciate white asparagus is the spring. In fact, in this period they are usually collected and remain available until the end of June. In this period you will find them fleshy and stiff, a sign that they are fresh. Give it a try: if you try to bend it and don't break it, it means I've been on the counter for a while.
Cultivation and characteristics
THE'white asparagus of the season it must also show a nice homogeneous color, a sign that it has recently been picked up from the ground and has not come into contact with the light. This plant is grown with the "forcing" technique: they are grown under the ground, covered with sheets that make them grow larger while remaining white.
According to some historical sources, white asparagus was discovered by accident. During the sixteenth century there was a violent hailstorm in Veneto that destroyed the asparagus tips that spilled from the ground. The peasants were therefore forced to eat only the part that remained intact underground. Those stems did not have the typical green or violet color, but they were white. The white asparagus proved to be sweeter and more delicate to the taste and it began to be cultivated in this way areas of the North-East.
The result of this cultivation technique is that, in addition to having no green pigmentation, the white asparagus will be longer and more fibrous, so you will need more time to cook it.
How to clean white asparagus
White asparagus should be cleaned from the base. First of all you have to to cut at least 4 centimeters of stem, the part that is more hard and woody. Then, after immersing them in cold water, you have to peel so as to eliminate even the bitter part and keep only the tastiest part.
How to cook white steamed asparagus
As everyone knows the cooking technique more suitable for asparagus – white and not – is the steaming. In this way the organoleptic properties of the raw material are maintained more or less unchanged. Ten minutes are enough to get the right degree of softness, but set the time also according to the thickness of asparagus. If they are very robust, it lengthens the cooking by a few minutes up to a maximum of 20 in total.
A trick to cook steamed asparagus and keep them straight and swollen is to tie them tight in a bunch with the upper points pointing upwards. In this way the steam will cook the buds gently, while the boiling water will soften the harder and more fibrous stems. For a perfect result, you can then get yourself the pot special dedicated to asparagus cooking: la Asparagus.
How to cook baked white asparagus
After being steamed, the asparagus is ready to be retouched and flavored with sauces or other sauces. You can use the oven to finish their preparation next to the meat or fish they will be served with. Try for example the recipe of marinated salmon pie with white asparagus!
How to cook white asparagus in a pan
You can cook the white asparagus also directly in the pan. Just clean them and cut them into small pieces, taking care to brown the stems first and then the tips. As these are more tender, you risk damaging them with too long cooking.
Risotto with white asparagus
One of the preparations in which asparagus gives the best is risotto. The white asparagus risotto it exploits the softness of the flavor of this vegetable, agreeing with the acidity and freshness of an excellent white wine or rather of sparkling wine. When the risotto is cooked, the stems are first cooked and then, almost towards the end of the preparation, the tips are added so as not to damage them too much. If presented with a bit of originality, this is a perfect dish to amaze your guests.
Pasta with white asparagus
White asparagus also lends itself very well to season pasta. Among the recipes you can try at home, try the tagliatelle with white asparagus and crispy ham. In addition to pasta and vegetables, put 40 grams of butter, shallots, prosciutto and Parmigiano Reggiano in your shopping list.
After cleaning and trimming the asparagus on the spikes side, legal together and boil for a quarter of an hour in salted water. Heat 20 grams of butter and finely chopped shallots. When it is golden, add the boiled asparagus cut into pieces to flavor. Season with salt and pepper and set aside. In another pan, brown the ham cut into strips into 10 grams of butter. Boil the noodles and add them to the aspargi with the remaining butter. Remove from the heat, sprinkle with Parmesan and complete with the crispy ham.
The tagliatelle also lend themselves well to one asparagus carbonara, where the tips are added to the egg and bacon. Moreover, always with white asparagus, you can prepare one cream with which to dress your favorite die.
Seconds with white asparagus
White asparagus is a perfect accompaniment to a second course of meat, but they are also the ideal protagonists of the rich flans, like the one of marinated salmon and white asparagus.
Try also a semifreddo dish, perfect for the first summer heats: thewarm trout and white asparagus salad. After having cleaned, boiled and cooled, put aside the white asparagus and fish. Cut the trout into slices and place it on a baking pan, together with the asparagus and herbs (parsley, dill, chives, shallots, chervil), sprinkling everything with white wine, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Bake everything at 200 ° C.
Meanwhile, burn the tomatoes in boiling water and then immerse them in cold water to stop cooking. Peel them and cut the pulp into cubes. Put them together with the mixed salad on a plate. After that, all you have to do is add the trout, the asparagus and season with the cooking juices.
Creams and velvety with white asparagus
Even the white asparagus, like many other vegetables, lend themselves well to the preparation of sauces and creamy sauces with which to dress pasta, to accompany seconds or to be consumed as simple velvety. To prepare the white asparagus cream all you need is two medium potatoes, some vegetable broth and half a kilogram of white asparagus. Enrich the recipe with poppy seeds, rosemary and toasted wholemeal bread.
After having skinned the asparagus with the utmost care, cut away the tips (which you have to keep aside) and let the chopped stalks season in the pan. Cut the potatoes into slices and add them to the stems with the vegetable stock. Cook for 30 minutes and then, with an immersion blender, turn everything into a soft one cream.
Wines to pair with white asparagus
Combining the right wine with asparagus is a big challenge. Given the very characteristic taste partly similar to that of the artichoke, this vegetable should be approached with great care. The ideal combination with this type of asparagus is a White wine with a good consistency, a marked acidity, aromas and quite intense aromas. One of the wines suited to accompany this dish was born in Breganze, a place where the white asparagus of Bassano is usually consumed. Is called Vespaiolo. Equally valid are the alternatives present in the Vicenza area, such as the Gambellara Classico D.o.c.