Oui, Je manges des asperges blanches!!
Yes, I eat white asparagus!
When we think of asparagus we think of typical green asparagus that we buy at the grocery store, but asparagus in Europe can be green, purple and WHITE.
In European cultures, in particular France, Spain, Netherlands, Switzerland and especially Germany–White Asparagus is consumed heavily.
On the seasonal food calendar in France, the front end of summer on through early September is a high point for asparagus. Here, bunches and bunches of asparagus at the height of the French market season.
Growing white asparagus is more labor intensive than growing green asparagus. White asparagus is the same as green asparagus, but grown without daylight. Denying the spears daylight as they grow prevents photosynthesis from taking place and this is the process that produces the green coloring in plants.
The plants are grown in the dark by piling soil on top of the spears as they appear and then cutting them well below the surface with a special knife before they grow through the soil into the daylight.
Asparagus that is allowed to grow up and through the top of the soil and receive sun, of course are green because of photosynthesis–as the asparagus looks below.
White asparagus in particularly is snatched up for delicate dishes. Below is a typical French asparagus recipe that is easy to try AND delicious.
Asparagus with vinaigrette & poached egg (serves 4)
For the vinaigrette:
5 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp mustard
1-2 garlic cloves, ground
1 & 1/2 tsp walnut vinegar (alternatively, you can use wine vinegar)
Salt & pepper – for seasoning
Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until the vinaigrette is smooth.
For the poached eggs:
1 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
In a shallow pan of boiling water, add 2 tsp of vinegar. Prepare your eggs by breaking them into little cups/pots so it’s easier to pour into the boiling water. When the water is boiling, pour in the eggs in different areas (maximum four at a time – or the water temperature will get cooler). Leave them alone, cover with a lid for 3 minutes, then check if they need a bit of ‘pushing and shoving’ to make their form rounder. You can use a large slotted spoon for this. Depending on how well you like your eggs cooked, 3 minutes should complete the task. When ready spoon each egg at a time onto a plate. Set aside.
For the asparagus:
A bunch of asparagus, depending on size count 4-6 asparagus per person.
A handful of chives (chopped finely)
Wash the asparagus under cool running water and trim away the bottom 1/3 of the stalk. With a vegetable peeler, peel off the rough part (leave the tip intact).
Fill a medium to large saucepan with water, about half way to the top. Add salt and bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly – cook for 10 minutes, or until crisp and tender, depending on thickness of asparagus. Drain and place on a serving plate. Place poached egg on top, drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with chives.
A POPULAR DISH
In Europe, & France for sure, white asparagus gets just as much attention as the green variety. You’ll see it on restaurant menus steamed and served with hollandaise sauce, a poached egg and chives.
Asparagus is so abundant in France and other places in Europe – an asparagus majolica plate to serve it on would not be uncommon. Here are some of these beautiful type plates found at our French culinary store, Aubergine Antiques.
So, EAT MORE ASPARAGUS: 5 good reasons
It’s loaded with nutrients, it can help fight cancer, it’s packed with antioxidants, it’s a brain booster and it’s a natural diuretic!!
**special thanks to umami mart and mimi thorisson of medoc france, & pinterest for information