White Asparagus: What Is It and How Do I Cook It?

By F&W Editors Posted March 15, 2016

Everything you need to know about white asparagus.

Spring is in the air, which means asparagus is in the greenmarket. The narrow, green spears are prolific this time of year, but their thicker, paler cousins are a bit harder to come by. Available only from April to June, ghostly white asparagus is an especially delicious seasonal specialty.

White asparagus is the same plant as green asparagus, but it lacks color because it's grown underground. Farmers cover it with soil as it grows, so the stalks don't undergo photosynthesis. There's one other big difference: Before cooking, you'll need to peel away the stalks' thick, bitter skin. After that, your best bet is to boil or steam. Here are seven of our favorite recipes for ultra-seasonal white asparagus.

1. White Asparagus with Pistachio Polonaise 
You’ll want to eat the crunchy pistachio topping on everything.

2. White Asparagus Salad with Creamy Tomato Dressing 
This simple, composed salad is a lovely way to showcase white asparagus’s buttery flavor.

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3. White Asparagus with Brown Butter 
Here is the perfect spring side dish.

4. Spring Vegetable Stew 
Want to make this stew extra-springy? Add some fava beans to the seasonal mix.

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5. Soft-Shell Crabs with Oyster Sauce and White Asparagus 
This unusual dish pairs crispy pan-fried soft-shell crabs with mild white asparagus and funky oyster sauce.

6. White Asparagus and Ham Gratin 
Like a frugal Alsatian housewife, Jean-Georges Vongerichten uses the asparagus peels to make a fragrant broth. When he adds them to boiling water, their characteristically grassy aroma emerges almost immediately.

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7. Portobello Mushroom Pave with White Asparagus Vinaigrette 
Marinated mushroom stacks are delicious with a creamy, herbaceous asparagus vinaigrette.

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