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Asparagus: How to Buy, Prep & Cook This Versatile Vegetable

These versatile veggies shine in the height of spring - here's what to do with them!


When to buy?
Asparagus is at its best in the height of spring, but it varies slightly depending on location. Here in LA, it ranges from March to June. 
What to look for?
When you're looking at asparagus in the grocery store, first look at the bud on top. It should be dry (as in, not slimy!) and quite firm. The stalks should be plump, not mushy at all, and bright green (the buds may be slightly purple). Be sure to buy asparagus according to the type of cooking you plan to do: for example, if you're going to grill them, go for thinner stalks so they can get tender quickly. If you plan to steam or boil, thicker stalks are fine.
What's the deal with purple asparagus?
There is actually a difference other than color (and slightly higher price!). Purple asparagus has a higher sugar content and is slightly more tender than your run-of-the-mill green asparagus. It's also just really pretty, and a fun way to add color to a dish!


How to prepare?
The ends of asparagus should almost always be trimmed - unless it's particularly thin asparagus, the stalk is way too fibrous to (happily) eat! You can easily break or cut the ends off, or for a more elegant French take on preparation, you can neatly shave off the ends with a vegetable peeler.
Always give the asparagus a quick shower under cold water, as sand or dirt can sometimes accumulate in the buds.
Once your asparagus is ready to go, you can cook it in any number of ways! Tap here for some of Giada's recipes with asparagus.
 

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