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What does asparagus taste like


If you’ve never had it before you may be wondering, what does asparagus taste like? As spring approaches, soon we will have a bounty of seasonal veggies, that includes asparagus as well. Here you’ll find out plenty of information about this popular vegetable that you’ll soon want to put on your plate for lunch and dinner every day!

baking pan with fresh asparagus

What is Asparagus?

Asparagus Officinalis as asparagus is known, belongs to the lily family. There are a number of varieties and you’ll find (more on that in a moment!) but whichever kind you choose, you’ll be in for a nutritious treat.

As it turns out, asparagus is a nutritious vegetable with many health benefits that may make you want to add them to more of your meals. For one, it is a low-calorie veggie with plentiful fiber so you can fill up on it.

Asparagus has vitamins A, C, E, and K plus folate, potassium, and phosphorous. And yes, these vitamins are a wonderful way to boost antioxidant intake with every bite of asparagus you take too! if you’ve yet to try asparagus, come find out what it tastes like!

What Does Asparagus Taste Like?

Unfortunately, it’s hard to describe what asparagus tastes like. This is because most people have different ways of describing it, though almost everyone can agree it has a very distinct flavor with earthy grass flavor.

Some say cooked asparagus taste like broccoli while others say asparagus taste is like mushrooms or it has a grassy taste. In the middle range of this tasting spectrum though, many find that canned asparagus taste is comparable to green beans though asparagus has a different texture and a bolder taste than green beans.

To further complicate describing what asparagus tastes like, it will depend on the way raw asparagus is prepared. It is such a versatile vegetable, the cooked asparagus tends to soak up the flavors you cook it with. As such, asparagus pairs exceptionally well with other boldly-flavored items, making it a match for savory grilled meats and steaks.

Types of Asparagus

With asparagus, there are a number of different varieties that vary in color, taste, and texture. When at your local farmers’ market or the produce section at your supermarket, you will usually find four basic types of fresh asparagus to choose from.

Green asparagus is what you’ll find most often as it’s the most common variety. It’s also most nutritious and its bright green color gets even brighter when you cook it. The green hue comes from chlorophyll. With green asparagus, it has the most fiber of the types of asparagus out there, which also lends it a tougher texture.

White asparagus spears are harvested before the stalks pop up from the soil. Green and white asparagus are the same as green asparagus though farmers do their part to keep it from interacting with the sun. White asparagus is often tougher and woodier, hence you may want to peel it prior to cooking. It tends to have a sweeter taste and fetch a premium price tag since it’s less common to find.

Purple asparagus is fun to cook because it will turn green. That purple color treats you to more anthocyanins, a special antioxidant that is also found in berries. If you find the green and white types of asparagus too tough, you’ll love purple asparagus because it’s more tender. However, it doesn’t have as much fiber. Taste purple asparagus and you’ll enjoy a sweeter, nuttier taste over green or white asparagus.

With wild asparagus, they grow with longer, thinner stalks. You shouldn’t attempt to pick it yourself though unless you can be certain you’ve found real wild asparagus. If you do find it though, you’ll be delighted with the delicate taste and texture.

How to Pick the Best Asparagus

Perhaps you’re not going to wander around looking for wild asparagus. Instead, you’ll likely be standing in front of it in the produce section or buying it from your local farmers. But how do you pick the best asparagus?

For one, you have to look at the tips. Those buds have the best flavor and should be firm rather than wilted. Additionally, giving it a little sniff should clue you in. Asparagus that isn’t fresh will smell unpleasant.

The stalks of your asparagus should be plump and firm while the tips should look tightly closed together. Whichever variety you’re grabbing for, the color is also a clue in that it shouldn’t look faded. At your supermarket, you may notice asparagus standing upright in fresh, cold water or even on ice.

Another thing you’ll notice when you go to purchase asparagus is that it can be fat or thin. Try to get your bundle of asparagus to have crisp stalks of the same size. When you choose young asparagus with a thin asparagus spear, they get tender quite quickly, making them ideal for a quick sauté, steam, or even a fast grilling. With the fatter spears, you’ll have to trim them first, then steam or boil them to a tender format.

Which is better? Honestly, it’s your preference. The smaller spears are delicate and tender, perfect for an elegant meal. However, the thicker stalks are more robust and meaty, making them an iconic pairing with fine cuts of steak.

Asparagus is best in spring when it is in season, however, you may see it available during the holidays to serve as a winning side dish to your meals. Buying locally will always give you the best flavors, though you can get asparagus at other times of the year. Plus, the prices will always be lower when they’re in season. If you’re buying it out of season, expect that it’s been shipped from elsewhere and may not be quite as fresh, or as cheap as you were hoping.

How to Prepare Asparagus Before Cooking

Even though your asparagus might not look dirty, those tips can retain a good amount of grit. You should rinse it well under cold water to remove any lingering bits of dirt. After that, take a look at the bottom of the asparagus stalks. This portion can be tough and fibrous which is why they need to be trimmed. You can simply cut them where the tough portion ends and the tender stem begins. But simply snapping them will do just as well.

Another way to prepare your asparagus is by peeling it, though this takes more patience. It’s almost impossible with thin stalks so don’t frustrate yourself. If you’d prefer to peel the asparagus, do so on those thick spears.

If you’re not exactly keen on wasting those tough ends, you can make them into a vegetable stock. However, this will give it an asparagus flavor so be mindful to use it in ways that would go well with what you’re making.

Asparagus can be cooked whole, and it really looks better this way. But some recipes call for cutting them into segments. It’s really up to you when it comes to preparation and presentation though when you’re putting them in something like stir fry or pasta, it may be best to cut them into bite-sized pieces.

There’s something else you should know about asparagus…you shouldn’t keep it too long. It tends to go bad fast so you should aim to buy it the same day you cook it. Ahead of a large holiday meal, you can buy it a few days before if you do a few things to help it stay in fresh condition.

The key is to preserve it like a flower bouquet. You’ll trim the bottoms with a sharp knife and set them in a jar with some water at the bottom. You’ll want to put this in your fridge and cover it loosely with a plastic bag. Change that water out each day, and in a few days when you’re ready to dazzle company with your asparagus and other dishes, they will still taste farm-fresh.

Common Ways of Cooking Asparagus

Once you learn some of the more common ways of cooking asparagus, it will be easy to add it to any meal. Many people keep the cooking process simple and serve it as a side dish. But asparagus can easily be part of the main dish for any meal of the day.

Cooked asparagus is delightful in omelets or quiche. You can shave thick stalks raw into salads. You can also make a wonderful cream of asparagus soup. And the ways you can cook asparagus for sides and mains range widely too. Throw it on the grill at your backyard barbecue, roast it in the oven, sauté, boil, broil, or fry!

Whichever way you choose to prepare it, keep in mind that overcooking asparagus will deplete it of those beneficial nutrients. When you overcook it, it will have a mushy texture. If you’ve had asparagus before and didn’t like it, chances are that it was overcooked.

So, how should you cook your asparagus? Here’s a rundown of ideas:

  • Raw: Simply shave it into long ribbons for your salad with your vegetable peeler. It goes beautifully with a lemon vinaigrette dressing.
  • Roasted: Roast asparagus is a quick-roast veggie so it won’t take long in your oven. For the best results, use thicker stalks.
  • Sauteed: You’ll have a better time getting them to cook evenly if you cut them into segments or avoid overcrowding your pan. Just a little olive oil or butter plus garlic and a drizzle of lemon juice is all you need.
  • Steamed: This is one of the simplest and easiest ways to make your asparagus. Cook it on top of boling water. Be sure to pair it with a good sauce like hollandaise.
  • Grilled: Brush them with olive oil and throw them on your grill. They’re wonderful with steaks, ribs, and even barbecue chicken and pork too.
  • Boiled: In a skillet, add water on top of your asparagus until it boils. Check to see if they’re fork-tender and then you’ll be ready to serve. With this method, adding a sauce to serve with your asparagus will make them disappear faster.
  • Stir-Fried: Asparagus can also elevate your Asian stir-fry dishes. In this format, cut them into segments so they cook evenly.
  • Sous Vide: If you can sous vide, your asparagus should never come out overcooked.
  • Bacon-Wrapped: And finally, if you love bacon too, wrap a bundle of thin asparagus (or wind it around each thick-stalked piece) and bake for about 15 minutes until the bacon is crisp. It’s a great appetizer for a dinner party or for the holidays.

Tips on Making it Taste Better

It doesn’t take much to make asparagus taste better. But if you need tips on making it taste better, there are a few rules.

First, remember not to overcook that asparagus. No matter how you season it, if it’s overcooked, it will get soggy and you won’t like it one bit. Second, asparagus should be fresh. If it’s not, nothing will help it taste better.

And finally, simple seasonings are really all it takes. Asparagus tends to soak up those flavors around it, so in a stir-fry, for example, it’s going to take on the taste of the sauce. For sides, simply adding garlic, lemon, butter, or olive oil, a pinch of salt, and black pepper is all you need.

You can also add a splash of soy sauce and sesame oil, then top it with sesame seeds or parmesan cheese as a garnish.

Summary

There are many ways to enjoy your fresh asparagus, and if you’re new to trying this veggie, start with the most simple way. Once you get a taste for it, you’ll be an asparagus expert in your kitchen!

Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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