Amy Katz from Veggies Save the Day joins me to talk about all things asparagus as part of our new monthly series where we put a spotlight on a different vegetable. Each episode we will share facts, seasonal information, and recipes. Listen to these two veggie lovers nerd on about the best spring time vegetable - asparagus.
You can listen to this podcast episode below or listen on any of these podcast players - Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts. If you would prefer to read the text, you will find a transcript below.
Here is a transcript of the interview
Eric: Hey everybody. Welcome today to the Eat Shop Waste Not podcast. We are starting up a special series, which I'm super excited about. We're calling it our Veggie Spotlight. We're gonna take the spotlight and we're gonna put it on sorts of different vegetables from asparagus to tomatoes to Swiss chard.
We're gonna cover all these great, wonderful vegetables. The best part is I'm not doing this alone. I have a special guest with me for these episodes. I have Amy here. And Amy, welcome to our podcast and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Amy: Hey Eric. Thanks so much for having me. Yeah, I am a vegan food blogger and my website is Veggie Save the Day, and I share easy vegan recipes inspired by a Mediterranean diet. And one of my favorite things to do is create recipes around seasonal vegetables, so I'm really excited about our conversation.
Eric: Yeah. me too. I, that's the things that I get excited more than anything about is when you see those special seasonal vegetables. We kind of get are spoiled sometimes cause we think, you know, we like almost everything is in the grocery store all the time, but isn't always good.
🌎 Where Does Asparagus Come From?
And, and that leads to the topic for today is we're talking about asparagus. Um, so we're, we're in May right now, and this is like the, uh, asparagus time for most of the the country I know. Uh, Amy's out in California. So things happen there, little, little quicker than they happen, um, in a, in a more Northern States. Um, but may time is. Asparagus, especially, um, in Michigan we're one of the top asparagus producer dates, so we, our asparagus comes up in May and it's a really exciting time cuz you can't get any, any better than fresh asparagus.
All right, so we're gonna take you through some, tips, tricks, facts about asparagus. did you know that most of the year, asparagus that you buy in the grocery store comes all the way from Peru?
Amy: Peru. No way.
Eric: Yep. Most of the year. It is from Peru. If you look at the tags, it's gonna say Peru probably. Eight months or so outta the season. It just, they seem to grow, they grow all year somehow. They grow and all year around, which I still don't figure that whole thing out, but they are able to, um, do that.
And so most of the time our asparagus is actually from Peru.
Amy: Wow. I had no idea.
Eric: There's a couple things like that too. Um, like snow peas and sugar snap peas and stuff are not from Peru, but they're all from Guatemala. So there's like these special like different vegetables and things that like come from one certain region. You know, most things in a grocery store are gonna be like Mexico and California and stuff like that, but there's a few things that are like from Europe, but we import more than anything.
Eric: Yeah, so that's how we are able to have it year round. But the downsides, of course, to having it come from so far away is that, so the sugars that are naturally occurring in the asparagus will begin to convert to starch as soon as they're cut immediately. So, if we're harvesting something in Peru and shipping it all the way here, the flavor and stuff is not gonna be, it's gonna be more starchy. It's not gonna be that kind of sweet veggie taste that we love.
So, but most of the year that's what we get. And then in the late winter to early springtime, we start seeing it from, um, Mexico and California. And that's usually when I start buying asparagus again. I tend to not really buy it in the wintertime, um, just because like, it's just like, so it's not as good, um, and, you know, focus more on other vegetables then.
Amy: Yeah, I completely agree. And I mean, there's nothing like fresh seasonal produce and asparagus is one of those that you can really taste the difference when you buy it, when it's actually in season, in the spring, um, it just tastes so much fresher and you know, the stalk are nice and tender. Um, you know, sometimes you find the larger stalks, sometimes the thinner stalks, you know, Both are great, but yeah, I am with you where I wait until it's actually in season to buy it.
Eric: Yeah, I'm totally with you. So this, so this is the time now.
if you're listening to this right now, this is your time, time to stock up on the asparagus. So usually like, like May is the like kind of the peak time of it. We go into somewhat into June and then usually about the end of June, um, just depending on the year cuz typically California will wrap up in end of this month or so, depending on how the year went, you don't see it as much in California.
You'll see it from other states, Michigan and Washington. Um, maybe sometimes you can get it from Ontario too, or British Columbia, but, you know, the northern places. But once that season ends in, usually around 4th of July or so, I'll head into the store, look on the tag of asparagus and notice, oh, it's Peru again. And then, and then there's a long wait. But I enjoy as much of it as I can, while it's in season two, when it's perfect.
🟣 Purple & White Asparagus
Uh, so also you may be able to find purple asparagus. Have you seen purple asparagus before? Amy
Amy: You know, I've seen it, um, like in restaurants, but I haven't found it to actually purchase it myself.
Eric: Typically, it doesn't really make it to, um, grocery stores. Like I've seen it at Whole Foods before.
Eric: and maybe I think like the Fresh Market, more of like the. More the high-end type stores. Occasionally carry, but not usually the bigger chain stores really. Mostly it's a, um, farmer's market thing, and it's so, it, it's, beautiful.
Usually it's, they tend, I don't know what if it's always this way, but they always tend to be pretty big stalks. So if you like the big stalks, and I've seen some ginormous.
Um, purple asparagus, the unfortunate part is that when you cook it, it doesn't stay purple, just like purple beans. It turns like kind of a dark green. Um, not all that pretty actually. I mean, if you roast it, you won't be able to tell anyway.
Amy: Ah, that's interesting. Yeah, I was hoping it would be bright purple.
Eric: Yeah, that would be nice. Yeah, there is, there is some vegetables like, um, purple sweet potatoes, like they will actually get more purple when you cook them.
Eric: It just looks green, kind of like, ugh.
Not, no, not exactly. Very pretty. And the flavor, it's not really, it's not really any different. It just, you know, people say it's a little bit sweeter, but I never really noticed any major significant difference. I mean, it's kind of fun to buy, you know? I love taking photos of it cause it's beautiful.
Amy: Yeah, that's true, but I guess I won't go outta my way to find it.
Eric: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. You don't need to, yeah, search it out. Um, just for that purpose. Um, now there's, uh, white asparagus too, which is just asparagus that they grow deprived of light. Um, it has a more bitter flavor and it's, and, and I've always noticed it's kind of brittle too. Like I don't, um, you don't really see it grown in the US anymore.
It's kind of a European thing, and you'll see it imported sometimes. Um, but yeah, it's um, I don't, honestly don't get the point honestly. Um, you know, you're, why you wanna deny the chlorophyll right? I mean, I know they're just trying to get like a bitter type taste and flavor things. I'm sure, you know, there were some recipes out there that would be lovely for that, but I'm not into white asparagus.
Amy, have you seen the white
Amy: Yeah, you know what? I'm not a fan. I, I don't buy it either. I, you know, like you said, I don't really see the point, and I don't think it tastes as good as the green asparagus.
Eric: Yeah. So, yeah. Yeah, last time I checked, I don't think there's anybody that's really even doing it. I think California used to grow it commercially, somewhat, and if they gave up on that. So again, you know, if I'm the purple asparagus, great. Give it a try. It's fun here. And, but no need to search out for other colors of asparagus.
❓ How to Store Asparagus
I also recommend trying not to buy it when it's in plastic bags. Like, I really don't like when they do that. Cause I feel like the moisture ends up kind of trapping it and it tends to like get around the tips and you don't want soggy asparagus tips. And that's like the best part.
Eric: So like, it's so like, it's softer, slimy. I'm starting to see that more often, which I'm like, and, and too, it's plastic we don't need. Usually asparagus will come in a container. Oftentimes it's actually in styrofoam, so that's not very eco friend either.
But, um, they, you know, most stores will just put it in, put it in water, like a flower. Um, I see some places they said they'll just, you know, like an Aldi, I think they do theirs come, come in bag and you, you know, it's not like you can't buy them at all. But like, I kind of really look those over and kind of inspect that.
Amy: Yeah, I, I, when I buy it at my local market, I see it just in a container of water, like you said, like you would store a bouquet.
And that's actually, how I like to store it at home if I'm not gonna use it right away. So I don't know if you store it that way too, but I like to just snip off the very ends.
Like I keep the rubber bands around it and then I put it in a shallow, um, cup of water. Like if you use one of your Pyrex measuring cups, um, like the two cup one, that one works really well. And then, um, you can put like a loose plastic bag. If you have an extra one, you can put that on top. And then I just put it in the refrigerator and it seems to stay fresher longer that way.
Eric: Yeah. And that's good. You said like a loose bag on top is a little bit different. Yeah, and definitely,treat like a flower. It's a flower. I mean, that's what it is really. It's a flower that comes out of the ground, boom. And then will eventually pop open. There'll be little seed pods out for a long time. Um, so yeah, it's definitely, yeah, treat it like a flower and put it in the water. I think I actually, have a picture of asparagus inside of a two cup, a Pyrex on my blog, so,
Amy: I have a pic. Yeah, I have a picture like that too.
Eric: And then also, um, you know, sometimes even if it, you know, goes bad. There's kind of, you know, questions of how you could still use it. You know, I say if it's wrinkly, you know, if it's a little bit wrinkly still, but not moldy, then it's, it's still edible. I mean, it be the best asparagus you ever had?
Probably not necessarily, but I feel like if you, if you roast it, you know,and, and through the process of roasting it, it, it kind of already takes on more of like a wrinkle softer thing. So you're not even gonna, I don't think you'd be able to tell it was wrinkly. So I say, don't toss that.
💾 Save the Ends for Soup
And I also like to, um, sometimes I'll save the woody ends that cut off use that for stock.
Amy: That's a great idea.
Eric: put the ends into a stock pot and then, um, you know, boil it to do all that flavor out before you then toss the rest of it. And then I put in like potatoes or spinach, um, so, and those kind of things.
Amy: Yeah, that sounds really good.
🍽️ Amy's Recipes
Eric: Yeah. Speaking of good recipes, I'm gonna turn over to Amy, to kind of share some of your favorite ways to use asparagus and your recipes that people could find in your blog.
Amy: Yeah, thanks Eric. Well, you know, when asparagus is in season, I buy it as much as I can and I think it's, um, a good substitute for, um, like typically a lot of people buy broccoli all the time, but I think when asparagus is in season, it's a good choice to opt for instead of broccoli. Um, and you can use it all different ways.
Um, Like some of my favorite ways are just to throw it into a stir fry. You know, maybe slice it up into like inch long pieces and it doesn't take long to cook. Um, so you can just throw it in there with your quick, quicker cooking, um, vegetables. And you can also use it a lot in pasta. Um, I like to do that as well.
And um, since it does cook so quickly, You can just, you know, put in your bite size pieces, like toss it into the pasta water, the last few minutes of cooking, and then drain it all together and it's really great paired with, um, lemon and garlic. So, yeah, one of the, one of my favorite recipes, um, is that I make an orzo pasta, so it's a lemon, asparagus orzo, and it just comes together so, so quickly.
🍽️ Get Amy's recipe - Lemon Asparagus Orzo
And you know, I throw some chickpeas in there for some added protein and it's just really easy to make. And you know, the asparagus really shines. Through with those simple ingredients. Um, but you know, I also like to roast it like you mentioned, and, you know, finish it with a squeeze of lemon.
You know, I think lemon and asparagus are best friends!
Amy: Anytime you can add some lemon, um, it's really nice.
And, um, I also enjoy just blanching asparagus. And this is a good tip too. If your asparagus, um, is, you know, coming to its end of its peak or its prime in your refrigerator, you can just quickly blanch it in some, um, just about an inch of boiling water and then transfer that to, um, a big bowl of ice water.
And then you can store that. Asparagus in your refrigerator for a few more days until you're ready to use it. And you can, you know, chop it up, throw it into your favorite salads, um, or I like to just keep it, um, the, the spears whole. And then, um, just toss them with a little bit of rice vinegar and sesame oil and, um, top with some sesame seeds and it's a nice quick marinated, um, sesame asparagus.
🍽️ Get Amy's recipe - Quick Sesame Marinated Asparagus
Eric: Yeah, all that sounds absolutely amazing. Um, love the idea what the orzo, I do something similar, but I use couscous. Like the larger Israeli couscous.
Eric: You can toast that, that, that you can actually toast in the pan first, and then, and then cook it. And then I actually, um, make an asparagus pesto.
Amy: Ooh, that sounds great.
Eric: So, yeah, I'll, I'll take the tips off and like, I'll roast asparagus first, cut off the tips and save those. Cause I want, I wanna eat those whole and then kind of, and then make, make my pesto so I'll, I'll use like, um, save money. I'll use, um, sunflower seed instead of pines cuz they're a lot cheaper.
They get that nutty flavor across too. In your olive oil. so make that into a pesto that for a sauce for on top of the pasta and then top it with the, um, the tips still. So that's like one of my favorites.
Amy: Oh, that's a great idea. I'm gonna give that a try. Yeah. Sometimes I use, um, walnuts instead of pine nuts and pesto. I like that a lot. Or I'll just use some, um, hemp seeds if I have some of those in my refrigerator, cuz that gives, it gives it a nice, nutty flavor and it's good for people that are allergic to nuts too.
🔎 Find Amy
Eric: Yes. Yeah, that's, that's a good one too. Thank, yeah, thanks for sharing that one as well. All right, Amy, those are some really great tips here. Um, so where can people go to find you online?
Amy: So you can find me at veggiessavetheday.com. And I'm also on social media at Veggies Save the Day. And I love discussing, um, all things fresh produce. So feel free to send me a DM or shoot me an email at amykatz at veggiessavetheday.com.
Eric: Thank you for sharing this here, and we look forward to our next veggie spotlight episode with you.
Amy: Thanks for having me, Eric. This has been great.
🎧 If you liked this episode you need to check out Episode 038 - When to Toss or Keep Asparagus
➕ More Recipes
Here are all the asparagus recipes we have on our blog.
Leave a Reply