Once known as "sparrow grass," fresh asparagus of all colors--green, purple or white--is a gastronomic gift of spring.
Lily, Oh Lily
Part of the lily family, asparagus is grown in sandy soils. To cook, wash well under cool water, then steam briefly with the stalks standing upright, stir-fry, or drizzle with olive oil and flash blast in the oven.
Kept in the Dark
White asparagus is just green asparagus that hasn't seen the light of day. To keep it from turning green, it's grown in total darkness under mounds of dirt. Popular in Europe, white asparagus is tender and mild.
Caring for Asparagus
Asparagus tastes best when cooked soon after purchase. Markets should refrigerate their asparagus or store it standing upright in cold water. Wrap stalks in damp paper towels and store in the crisper until ready to prepare.