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Try Something New: Purple Asparagus

Purple asparagus: the milder, sweeter cousin of the green.

Maybe I’m the last person on Earth to get the memo, but I just learned about purple asparagus. I was walking through the farmer’s market, as I do on Saturday mornings, when I came across a booth where they were giving out samples. Of vegetables.

Now, that may not sound significant, but if you spend a lot of time at farmer’s markets, you’ll notice that only the fruit vendors have the “Try One!” sample boxes. Maybe it’s because most of us prefer our veggies to be cooked? But it definitely caught my eye to see the woman handing out chunks of raw asparagus. It was definitely sweeter and less pungent than its green cousin. I decided to give it a try.

Upon closer examination, the purple is only skin deep, so to speak. The inside of the asparagus is as green as the bunch beside it, almost as if the purple had been spray painted on.

I found a lot of recipes for purple asparagus online, but most of them seemed to use the vegetable for its color alone. I decided to cook it simply so we could actually taste its flavor, just a quick steam with a sprinkling of sea salt. When cooked, the color looks muddier, more brownish than purple, but it still has a very distinctive appearance.

Without a doubt, the flavor is milder than traditional asparagus, much more palatable to someone who might have been traumatized by the awful smell, flavor and texture of overcooked asparagus as a child (not naming names here, but geez, Mom, what were you thinking?) I probably ate twice as much of the purple as I would normally eat of the green.

Even the Tiny Kitchen Assistant tried it and reluctantly agreed that “if I had to eat an asparagus, this one is better than the green one. But I’m not going to eat any asparagus. Just cucumbers.” Hey, I can’t argue with a 4-year-old eating any kind of vegetables. Fine with me, kiddo.

Have you tried purple asparagus? Or better yet, white asparagus? My husband is desperate to get me to Germany during Spargel season so I can try that.

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One Response

  1. Susan Murphy says:

    I recently noticed the purple stalks at Wegmans and wondered what the deal was. Thanks for the info–I’m going to check it out!

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