Go green this season: Eat more asparagus

May 4, 2011 

In spring, it's good to brighten your menu. Asparagus will do the trick.

When buying fresh asparagus, always select stalks that are green and tender; tips should be well formed and tightly closed.

To prepare fresh asparagus, snap off tough ends by bending the stalk gently until it breaks. Wash spears thoroughly in warm water, and remove scales from stalks with a vegetable peeler or knife.

To cook, tie spears loosely with string in serving-size bundles. Stand the bundles in the bottom of a double boiler; cover only the stalks in boiling water. Invert the top of the double boiler over the spears, and cook until crisp yet tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Asparagus also can be roasted in the oven or sauteed in olive oil.

There are a variety of ways to serve one of spring's most delightful vegetables. Here are a few recipes for you to try.

Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus

HOLLANDAISE SAUCE

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1 bay leaf

4 egg yolks

8 ounces butter, softened

Salt and pepper

Prepare asparagus, blanch, drain and refresh. Arrange on vegetable platter. Meanwhile make Hollandaise sauce by putting vinegar, water and bay leaf in saucepan and boiling gently until liquid is reduced by half. Set aside and cool. Put egg yolks and reduced vinegar into a double boiler and whisk until light and fluffy. Gradually add butter, whisking after each addition. Season with salt and pepper and pour over asparagus.

Stuffed Asparagus Crepes

4 tablespoons milk

4 peppercorns

1 bay leaf

1 bunch asparagus

Pinch salt and pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 tablespoons plain flour

3 eggs, separated

Pinch cinnamon

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese

6 thin pancakes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Steam asparagus until tender, season with salt and pepper. Pour 2 tablespoons milk in a pan with peppercorns and bay leaf, bring to a boil and leave to infuse, about 10 minutes. Strain and discard flavorings. Melt butter, add flour and gradually stir in remaining milk to make white sauce; it should be thick. Allow to cool and add egg yolks.

Blend asparagus and sauce in food processor. Add cinnamon and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Whisk egg whites until stiff. Fold mixture into egg whites. Spoon generous amount in center of each pancake, fold two sides loosely at top. Arrange in dish and sprinkle with remaining Parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes until souffle has risen and pancakes are crisp.

Pancakes can be made ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator with plastic wrap separating them.

French-fried Asparagus

2 pounds fresh asparagus spears

1 egg

1/4 cup water

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Vegetable oil

Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Remove scales from stalks with knife or vegetable peeler. Combine egg, water, soy sauce and flour; beat until smooth. Heat vegetable oil until hot. Dip asparagus in batter and fry in oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

Port Royal resident Ervena Faulkner is a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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