They are starting to show bud tips, white asparagus (particularly the asparagus from the Landes sands labeled IGP since 2015), green asparagus from Provence, or even wild asparagus (not to be confused with asparagus from the forest). not belonging to the Asparagaceae family, recognizable by their pale green color, thin and straight stem and transparent bud). On the shelves until the end of May, asparagus remains a delicacy for gourmets.
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Originally from the Mediterranean basin, wild asparagus was very popular with the Egyptians during festive meals – this is evidenced by the frescoes. The Romans also loved him very much. They even develop the cultivation of this vegetable, which remains reserved for wealthy gourmets. For unclear reasons, the Middle Ages avoided asparagus. Forgotten, they did not reappear until the Renaissance, when they again won the favor of gourmets.
A luxurious product, it is especially appreciated by kings and princes. Henry III served it to his favorites, and Louis XIV demanded it on his table at any time of the year. It is thanks to the gardener of the Sun King, Jean de la Quintini, that they have become one of the star vegetables of the royal garden thanks to the indoor cultivation system.
True nutritional qualities
Before the beginning of XIXand century this vegetable, refined and very expensive, remains the prerogative of wealthy gourmets. Then asparagus just starts to become more popular and the crop spreads. First in the Paris area, near Argenteuil, Bezons and Epinay, then in the 1870s in the Loire Valley. She then conquered Aquitaine, Alsace and Provence.
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Asparagus is known for its nutritional qualities, is low in salt, rich in vitamins and minerals, and has a reputation for being low in calories… as long as you don’t use the sauce three times to taste it!
In the market, favor very firm, with very straight scales glued to the stem. Asparagus should be eaten quickly after purchase, it quickly softens and loses its lively and very grassy taste.
To prepare them, start by cleaning them, especially the white ones. When peeling, place the asparagus on a cutting board and remove the thin film of the skin. That way you won’t break it, especially if it’s very fresh. Do not submerge them completely in water while cooking. If you don’t have an asparagus pressure cooker (a tall pot with a built-in basket), form a bundle, wrap it in paper and tie loosely so you don’t cut the stems, then cook the asparagus upright. , in a pot of salted boiling water. Let the tips stick out, they should cook much less from the water than the stalk.
The simplest recipes are often the most flattering for this delicate vegetable: try them in dipping sauces with a boiled egg, finely chop on a mandolin in a tagliatelle and add clams to them, roast them on a cast-iron plate and serve with burrata and good olive oil…
► Green asparagus with ham and bruschetta
For 4 people
8 large green asparagus
4 slices of bread
2 very ripe tomatoes
2 sprigs of dwarf basil
1 C. olive oil
4 slices country ham
coarse salt for cooking
Fleur de sel and ground pepper
Peel the bottom of the asparagus, cut off the birthplace of the stem a little. Pre-boil the asparagus for 3 minutes in salted boiling water. Soak them for a few minutes in ice water, drain and wrap each in half a slice of raw country ham.
Put the asparagus wrapped in ham into a skillet without fat and cook for 5 minutes over high heat, stirring often. Meanwhile, prepare the bruschetta: toast the bread slices in a skillet along with the asparagus. Cut the tomatoes into small cubes, season with finely chopped green onions and peeled basil, salt, pepper and olive oil. Spread this mixture on toast and enjoy grilled asparagus.
►White asparagus in tarragon oil
For 4 people
16 asparagus from Les Sables des Landes
6 sprigs of tarragon
8 cl olive oil
4 pinches gomasio
Clean the asparagus with a vegetable peeler. Slightly cut the base and submerge them for 6-7 minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus, in boiling salted water. Check with the tip of a paring knife to see if the blade cuts easily into the asparagus.
Freshen the asparagus under running cold water, dry on absorbent paper. Peel the tarragon sprigs and mix two-thirds with olive oil. Adjust seasoning with pepper.
Place room temperature asparagus in a large dish, drizzle with aromatic oil, sprinkle with gomasio and sprinkle with tarragon leaves.