Food is all in the seasoning.
You can turn good food into great food when you know how to season.
I believe that it is something that people miss out on too much. If I had my way schools would offer classes just on how to season food. People either don’t know how or don’t take the time to add flavor to their foods. This is especially true with the side dishes, even more so with the veggies. (read One Reason We Don’t Eat More Vegetables)
Asparagus when bought during the peak season and cooked in the proper way can be extremely flavorful on it’s on. Sometimes adding salt is enough – we will talk a little bit about salt in this post. Yet still there are great spices you can add to really up the flavor meter to wow.
Below I will list the spices I think are best for asparagus.
The Best Spices to Add to Asparagus
|Best Spice for Asparagus|
Why these spices? Let me breakdown each one.
Of course pepper is going to work on asparagus. Pepper goes with everything right. Notice I titled this section with the longer, fancier name of peppercorns. I want you to instill in you the thought that your going to use whole peppercorns. These WHOLE PEPPERCORNS you are going to grind right before consuming.
Your not going to buy that cheap, already ground pepper that comes in a small metal canister, looks like saw dust, and doesn’t taste much better. Trust me. It’s time to invest in peppercorns!
The reason whole peppercorns must be enjoyed freshly cracked is that the violate oils in the berries are fleeting once broke. Yes peppercorns are a berry. One of the easiest, and best things you can do for yourself in the kitchen is buying a pepper mill/grinder. Even a cheap, under $15 mill (affiliate link) will change your life.
I take every chance I get to reinforce my pepper point, but let’s get to really why black pepper is great on asparagus. The spicy and slightly citruses notes of the peppercorn play well with the green, grassy, hopefully sweet yet bitter notes of the asparagus. It’s like hearing a choir sing in perfect harmony.
For asparagus I like to set my pepper grinder to a medium grind. I like the bold crunch. And I like to see the pepper – eat with my eyes!
Have you tried white peppercorns before? I enjoy them so much I like to have a grinder separate from my black pepper.
What’s the difference? White peppercorns are fully ripe berries that have had their outer layer removed.
What’s the flavor difference? You lose a bit of the spicy note, but I think instead you get more of the true pepper flavor itself, which I dig – especially when I am making potato leek soup. Often times white pepper is used in dishes that are white because the black specks from black peppercorns aren’t as visually appealing.
I would love for you to give them a try on your asparagus. Or you could even do a bit of both white and black. Taste the flavor difference yourself.
If you wish to learn more about the different types of peppercorn check out my post on the King of Spices.
Now we are going to look at my favorite seed to put on asparagus – the sesame. I think they are very visual appealing. It adds a component of nuttiness to the asparagus without being overpowering.
Sesame seeds are especially good when I am going for more Asian inspired asparagus. Some soy sauce, freshly grated ginger, and sesame seeds on top makes for some seriously good food.
Most of us are familiar with white sesame seeds, but did you know you can get black ones as well. Read abut the difference between white and black sesame seeds.
This one here you might be quite surprised by. When it comes to nutmeg, I believe most Americans think of it as being a spice you include with sweet baked goods or egg nog. It’s often paired with cinnamon, allspice, and/or cloves.
When nutmeg is given the ability to shine on it’s own – it can really stand out.
But did you know nutmeg is great in savory ways as well? Asparagus is probably the best way to eat it – savory style. It adds a certain richness that is hard to describe until you taste – and you must now after reading this.
The way to apply your nutmeg to the asparagus is not from a ground container – are you start to seeing a theme here? Just like pepper, nutmeg begs to be freshly grated. Whole nutmeg can be found in pretty much all grocery stores. I only buy 1 or 2 nuts at a time. They will last a while in their whole form.
To grate, I use my Microplane (affiliate link). It does the perfect job of distributing the nutmeg since it’s long and skinny, you can move it up and down the Microplane for even distribution.
I wanted to include some honorable mentions here. A few more options for you that I don’t like quite much but as still worth checking out. If you want to add some smokiness to your asparagus give smoked paprika a try. Want the smoke and the heat – then go for chipotle powder. For a more Mexican flavor, go with cumin. I like to buy the whole cumin seeds and grind them myself (I know imagine that!). This can be done in a coffee bean grinder or a mortal and pestle.
Let’s Talk About Salt
This whole concept of adding flavor to your asparagus completely falls on it’s butt if you don’t add salt. Salt has the ability to make the foods it comes in contact taste more like the food themselves. The salt gets our taste buds a-going. Make sure you have some good salt on hand.
When I salt my asparagus I either using kosher salt before I cook the asparagus and/or I use a good finishing sea salt. There are high quality sea salts out there that are best enjoyed by using them right at the dinner table. So pick a good one to have for your guests, family, friends, and of course yourself.
How do you like to season your asparagus? Make sure to tell us in the comments below.