Purple Asparagus


Green, white, and purple. All of them stood there, wrapped in bunches and looking perky now that they’re in season. But which asparagus to choose? Green is the usual, and I’d just read about the virtues of white asparagus; but I guess I’m one of those Americans who doesn’t know what to do with white asparagus, especially when I see it in jars. At least for now. I snagged the purple ones.

Purple asparagus is supposed to be a bit sweeter and less fibrous than the green ones. I considered a raw salad but settled on a barely-cooked side of asparagus. I wanted to preserve as much of that sweetness and color as possible since those lovely shades of purple turn green when cooked.

I gave the spears just one hot minute on each side before sprinkling with salt again and squeezing a lemon over them. They turned out green and purple and lightly charred in spots. It was just enough to take off the raw flavor and ensure they maintain their crispy bite.

David Tanis would approve. Next time, I’ll give them a whirl in the wok.


purple asparagus, barely cooked

Just a quick minute or two on a hot grill pan and you’re done. I want its flavor and color to shine through as much as possible.

purple asparagus
olive oil
black pepper
a lemon

Heat grill pan or skillet to medium-high heat.

Trim any woody ends off the asparagus. Coat asparagus in about 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.

Working in batches, place four or five asparagus spears on a hot pan. Cook until lightly charred, about 1 minute, on both sides of the spears.

Season cooked asparagus with a bit more salt, and squeeze half a lemon over them. Serve immediately.



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