Learn about asparagus and how to use up the entire spear
This week’s “sparrow grass” is from our organic farm in Svanholm, west of Copenhagen. Asparagus is the ultimate spring vegetable. There’s three types; green, from Britain, white, from the Netherlands and purple, from Italy and France. White asparagus, or “edible ivory”, is white due to a blanching technique that is applied while the shoots are growing. The shoots are “earthed-up” i.e. covered in soil as they grow, to prevent exposure to sunlight. On the other hand, green asparagus has been grown in sunlight and that’s why it has the most strong flavour. Purple asparagus has a mild fruity taste to it and is delicious raw.
Historically, asparagus has been used as a medicine due to its diuretic and anti-bacterial properties, and it’s apparent aphrodisiac effect! Even the ends of asparagus spears are highly nutritious, full of fibre and very flavourful — so we need to stop throwing them away! Instead, let’s transform these lovely leftovers into something marvellous.
STEPS TO ZERO-WASTE-NESS:
First, remove dem woody ends:
The reason asparagus ends are thought to be inedible, is that they are extremely tough and fibrous, like a freshly broken tree branch. So, you need to trim dose woody ends!
But how? Simply bend each stalk with both hands, gently, until it snaps — the break will happen where the woody part meets the tender. Try it out, it’s fun!
Next, get thrifty!
So, as you know, WE ARE AT WAR WITH FOOD WASTE. And sometimes that means you gotta get creative! So we’ve taken some time to explore some interesting and innovative ways to use up these woody leftovers, check it out!
Make a Stock:
- First things first, boil the ends in a pot so that they are 1-inch deep in water.
- Simmer for about 40 minutes or until pretty soft.
- Next, blend with a hand blender, as much as you possibly can.
Finally, pour the purée through a mesh strainer with a big bowl underneath to catch the liquid. Stir and press the fibrous pulp until all the liquid has been squeezed out entirely. The pulp is inedible so it goes in the compost. If you want any more tips on how to reduce a vegetable stock click here.
How to use the stock:
- The light and fresh stock left behind is the perfect base for a creamy asparagus soup, or any soup for that matter.
- You can also it to use as a base for a sauce, for example asparagus purée, asparagus pesto or vegan paté.
- Use it to cook rice or barley in, for increased deliciousness.
Slice the stalk:
- Peel away the skin of the stalk and use very thin slices of what’s left to enhance a soup, or toss in a salad to add some crunch.
- You can pickle these peeled stems with vinegar, salt, dill seed and garlic. The pickling will soften them and allow you to enjoy them all year round. Add to salads, sandwiches or as a tasty snack.
- You can also sprinkle some thinly sliced stems on top of eggs, frittatas or casseroles. The stems can be thrown on to just about anything to give whatever you’re eating a heartier texture and a more robust flavour.
Leftovers are the most expensive food in your home and asparagus are very special indeed. If you are inspired by this and want more tips on how to maximize your summer veggies, click on our previous posts on fennel and artichoke.