Have you ever seen what asparagus growing looks like? Well, in summary, it pretty much looks like it’s pranking you into thinking how it doesn’t grow. But, in fact, that’s how it grows. Additionally, when it comes to planting, and harvesting, asparagus is a bit peculiar and unlike other vegetables in a couple of other ways too.
The first odd thing about growing asparagus is how long it takes to be able to harvest it. If you plant asparagus it can take between three and four years before you can harvest it depending on which method you plant it – either by seed or by planting an asparagus crown. Planting asparagus seeds takes an extra year for you to be able to harvest them, so four years total. So, the most popular way to plant asparagus is by planting juvenile asparagus known as a crown which is essentially just a stem and root system.
However, while it may take a few years to harvest, it’ll certainly be worth it. This is because of asparagus’s second peculiar trait – it’s a perennial. This means that you don’t need to plant it again after it’s been harvested. In fact, an asparagus plant can last up to twenty years!
But, if you’re more concerned with eating it, you may be wondering, what does asparagus taste like? Well, it has a strong, crisp taste that’s somewhat similar to broccoli or green beans but a bit more bitter.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about asparagus!
- 1 What Does Asparagus Taste Like?
- 2 What Affects the Taste of Asparagus?
- 3 What’s the Texture of Asparagus Like?
- 4 What Tastes Similar to Asparagus?
- 5 How do You Cook Asparagus?
- 6 Health Benefits of Asparagus
What Does Asparagus Taste Like?
Choosing the exact words to perfectly define the taste of asparagus is pretty challenging, even for myself who happens to love asparagus season!
The taste can often be described differently depending on who you ask. But, it has a mix of flavors that can depend on a variety of factors.
Ultimately, asparagus has a unique and strong taste that has similarities to broccoli or green beans. But, it’s also a bit more bitter and has some subtle earthy undertones too. The texture of asparagus is also one of a kind, no matter how it’s prepared.
What Affects the Taste of Asparagus?
No matter how you cook it, or what sauce or marinade you use, there will always be at least a subtle taste of asparagus because of how strong the taste can be. But, since the taste of asparagus is pretty great, that certainly isn’t a problem!
That said, there are some things that will affect the taste of asparagus. These include the type of asparagus, how it’s cooked, and the food that you pair it with.
Asparagus is usually served as a side dish for a variety of main dishes, which includes chicken, fish, lamb, and beef. Its versatility makes it a useful vegetable for many other complex dishes as well.
It can be used as a vegetable in salads, stir-fries, or pasta dishes. When cooking asparagus with other ingredients, the asparagus will absorb the different flavors of the other ingredients and take on a different flavor profile. You can try pairing asparagus with other bolder flavors that can help you enjoy its flavor if you don’t like it cooked alone. Garlic, parmesan cheese, ham, rice, tomatoes, and chickpeas go exceptionally well with asparagus.
Asparagus is also a good match for hollandaise sauce, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and olive oil.
In Germany or Austria, the classic pairing with white asparagus is boiled potatoes and hollandaise sauce. If you’re ever visiting around April and May, you’ll likely see many restaurants offering this seasonal pairing. I would recommend it as well!
The Type of Asparagus
The most common type of asparagus in the United States tends to be the green variety, but you can also find it to be purple or white as well – as I already alluded to the white variety in Europe.
While they all have a somewhat similar taste, each of these types of asparagus still has its own unique flavor profile.
The mildest of the different asparagus varieties tends to be the purple one. It’s not as bitter as the green or white variety, and it actually has a slightly sweet taste even.
The next mildest is white asparagus, but it tastes pretty similar to green asparagus but milder and it’s usually shorter and thicker than green asparagus.
Green asparagus has the strongest flavor. It has a “grassy” kind of flavor that’s mostly derived from the increased bitterness that the white and purple varieties don’t have.
How They’re Cooked
If you’re familiar with different methods of cooking vegetables like baking, deep-frying, carmelizing, etc. then you probably already know that each method can play an important role in the flavor of the vegetables.
This is also true for cooking asparagus too, some methods enhance its flavor while others can hide it.
If you would like to either keep the taste of the asparagus or make it more pronounced, you can try steaming, blanching, or roasting asparagus.
If you would like to change the taste you can sauté it with butter, deep-fry it, or even barbecue it.
You can also change its flavor by soaking it in a marinade before you cook it as well. So, whether you like the taste and want to enhance it, or you want to make it a bit more subtle, there is no shortage of options.
What’s the Texture of Asparagus Like?
Similar to the differences in the taste of asparagus, there are a few things that can affect the texture of asparagus as well, like the freshness, type, and how it’s cooked.
Asparagus should be crisp and crunchy when fresh. But it’s entirely up to personal choice when it comes to cooking asparagus. Some individuals want their cooked asparagus stalk to be crunchy, while others prefer them delicate.
The longer you cook asparagus, the softer it will become. But it can become particularly soft when you steam it or sauté it.
Additionally, wider and fatter asparagus spears have a meatier feel, but they can also be woody and too fibrous if they are not in season. This is probably most common for white asparagus because they are generally this shape.
Lastly, the longer you leave asparagus in the fridge, the more its texture will deteriorate. Fresh asparagus is crisp, but old asparagus is rubbery. The older the asparagus, the more wrinkled and soft it becomes.
My personal favorite way to get asparagus perfectly crispy is by cooking it in an air fryer. I highly recommend it! More on that a bit later though.
What Tastes Similar to Asparagus?
Since asparagus has a unique flavor profile – no matter what color – it can be hard to find a suitable replacement for asparagus. Even findiing another vegetable that tastes similar to it for comparison is tricky.
However, it’s probably not too big of a surprise that some similar-tasting vegetables are green beans, broccoli, or artichoke leaves. All of them are also primarily green and have similar “rough” physical characteristics.
How do You Cook Asparagus?
I briefly mentioned how the different methods of preparation can affect the flavor and texture of asparagus, but let’s get into the ins and outs of cooking asparagus a bit more.
Cooking Asparagus in an Air Fryer
Let’s start with my previously mentioned favorite cooking method – the air fryer. You can make a simple, yet seriously tasty side dish with only a few ingredients. All you need is asparagus, olive oil, paprika, salt, and pepper.
- First, trim off the ends of the asparagus.
- Then, in a large bowl, toss together the asparagus, olive oil, and generous amounts of the seasonings.
- Put the asparagus into the air fryer basket and then cook at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 7-8 minutes until they are crispy.
Steaming asparagus is best done in a steamer. Place the spears on the steam rack and steam for 3-4 minutes. And make sure to cover the pan while steaming the asparagus.
To roast asparagus in the oven, first, preheat it to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Make sure the asparagus spears are cleaned, trimmed, and washed before roasting. Lay the spears in the baking pan and line it with foil or baking paper.
Then, drizzle olive oil over the asparagus spears. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese and minced garlic over the asparagus spears. Season with salt and pepper. You can also add lemon zest if you want your spears to have a fresh taste.
To saute asparagus, first trim the bottom of each asparagus stalk.
Then, heat a pan on medium heat with one or two tablespoons of butter (depending on how many asparagus spears you’ll cook), and then add the asparagus once the butter is melted.
Sauté for between five and eight minutes and sprinkle some salt on them while they cook.
The exact amount of time will depend on the size of the stalks and how fresh the asparagus is. Fresher asparagus cooks faster.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
Asparagus is one of the healthiest foods out there. This is primarily because of the calorie-to-nutrient ratio.
It’s low in calories but yet it’s a great source of folate, fiber, and vitamins A, C, and K. So, it can make a very healthy addition to any meal.