Ask Evan: What Should I Do With Purple Asparagus?

Written by

Every Tuesday I answer a question from a Good Food listener. You can email me a question, leave one on Facebook or add one in the comments section here. This week’s question comes from Betty:

Do you have a favorite preparation for purple asparagus?

I love this question and I really really love those Zuckerman’s Purple, nearly-jumbo asparagus.  Almost anything you do will be wonderful, but I think they’re at their best simply prepared.  I think roasting brings out the best in asparagus. 

You’ll want to peel the lower third of each spear since the purple variety have tougher outer skins than their green cousins.   I cut the very tough bottoms off, then peel the lower part of the spear.  Don’t peel too far up or you’ll lose the very reason you bought them in the first place, that color.  But the color isn’t the best part of purple asparagus.  It’s the taste.  They are slightly less bitter and brighter in flavor than green asparagus.  I don’t want to say sweet because it’s not that they’re sweet, but maybe more vegetal and less, well, asparagusy.

I lay the trimmed, peeled stalks directly on a baking sheet.  No parchment.  It will be a littler messier, but you want the heat from the metal to transfer to the asparagus.  Drizzle an olive oil you like over them, then salt and pepper. Put the pan in a preheated 400 degree oven and let the asparagus roast just until the spears are barely tender when pierced with a paring knife.  It only takes about 10 to 15 minutes.  I prefer them nearly at room temperature so I can pick them up with my fingers.  They really don’t need any additional gilding but if you want them to be the base for a light meal then fry an egg, slide it on top of about 5 or 6 roasted asparagus and sprinkle with parsley, homemade garlickly breadcrumbs or a dab of hot sauce.  Whatever you prefer.  If cholesterol isn’t an issue you can also brown some good butter, drizzle that over the roasted asparagus and generously sprinkle parmesan over.  When’s the next market day?