Friday, April 21, 2017

Asperges blanches

We're in the height of asparagus season, and white asparagus is a crop that's a specialty of our region. For the last ten years or so, we've been getting our asparagus from one particular grower at the Saint-Aignan Saturday market. He also grows and sells strawberries and makes honey. I get the impression talking to him that he's basically retired, but continues to work the market on behalf of his son, who now runs the business.

Freshly steamed violet asparagus. Steaming turns much of the violet part green, but the rest stays white.

White asparagus is the same plant as green asparagus. The difference is that the spears are continuously covered in dirt as they grow so that they don't get any sunlight. That keeps them from turning green. And white spears need to be peeled before cooking. Often, the spears' tips are allowed a little light to turn them slightly purple, resulting in what's called les violettes, or "violet" asparagus.

I bought a kilo of violet spears on Saturday and steamed them. We ate half of them with some smoked trout and a lemon-caper dressing on Wednesday. Today, I'm going to try something new: I'll wrap a few pre-cooked spears in a slice of ham, then wrap that bundle into puff pastry and bake it. I'll let you know how it turns out.


  1. Miam. Looks delicious. And with respect to the smudge pots again... it appears your neighbor was very wise and I hope it indeed saved his vines. There are stories in the Nouvelle Repulique today that indicate there was severe damage in our areas.

  2. The puff pastry recipe sounds so good. Looking forward to seeing (and reading about) the results.

  3. I'm looking forward to seeing that, too :)

  4. IT is going to be fabulous. I make it all the time. I am able to buy puff pastry squares in my local Middle Eastern market and I use them for all sorts of yummy things. LOCAL . I started making this very appetizer last spring when I overdosed on an purchase of asparagus because they looked so good. YOU WILL LOVE IT!!! with a great bottle of white wine ;) (or two :) )

  5. When we lived in Germany in the early '70s we were amazed by "spargelzeit".Restaurants had menus with only different asparagus dishes, made with white asparagus. It was delicious. I was able to buy some white asparagus here once, but it wasn't the same, somehow.

  6. I struggle with asparagus, it is not a favorite for me but Björn loves it. I am going to try a lemon caper dressing, that sounds lovely!

  7. stuart, I saw the article, but I haven't seen any updates yet.

    mitch, it worked well. Upcoming post...

    judy, soon!

    angiemanzi, they were good, but they were the main course.

    thickethouse, I rarely (if ever) saw white asparagus in the US. It's probably available now, though.

    julia, it was good, and we finished what was left over on a green salad the next day.


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