TIPS FOR CHOOS­ING AND COOK­ING ASPARAGUS

The Star Early Edition - - VERVE -

The di­am­e­ter of an asparagus spear in­di­cates when it was har­vested. Thick spears are gen­er­ally har­vested at the be­gin­ning of the sea­son, with the stalks get­ting thin­ner as the sea­son wears on. Choose firm, bright green asparagus stalks with plump, tightly-closed tips. Fad­ing colour is a sign of de­te­ri­o­ra­tion. Check the stem ends to make sure they look freshly cut, not shriv­elled or dried out. Un­cooked asparagus will stay fresh for three to four days in the re­frig­er­a­tor. The se­cret is to keep the veg­etable cool and damp. Store spears up­right in a con­tainer with the stems sub­merged in an inch of wa­ter, then cover loosely with a plas­tic bag, or wrap the ends in moist­ened pa­per tow­els and store in a plas­tic bag. The goal when cook­ing asparagus is to try to pre­serve the bright colour and del­i­cate flavour. Grilling or roast­ing the spears in­ten­si­fies their in­her­ent sweet­ness. Steamed or boiled asparagus is great for sal­ads. To boil, wash the spears, then plunge them into a pot of boil­ing wa­ter large enough to ac­com­mo­date them in a sin­gle or dou­ble layer. Boil un­cov­ered or they will go from a bright green to an army drab colour. As soon as they are ready, drain them and sub­merge them in ice wa­ter or run them un­der cold wa­ter for a few min­utes.

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