Monday, April 28, 2008

Seen at The Market: Purple Asparagus

I love finding really interesting looking produce, especially when they come in an unusual color such as these purple asparagus I found at Market Hall Produce in my Rockridge neighborhood.

I don’t really know the story behind purple asparagus—is it a hybrid, do asparagus start off purple and then turn green, or is it a dye job? My search of the Internet found that most point to Italy as the creators of the purple stalks.

Unlike white asparagus, which takes longer to cook than the more common green asparagus, the purple variety is just like the green. In fact, when I cut into them, there was a thin layer of green under the purple surrounding the white flesh. It’s almost like someone spray-painted my green asparagus purple.

I thought they looked really dramatic, but after I bought it I wasn’t sure what to do with them. So I just made a stir-fry below. Problem is, the asparagus turned from purple to green under the high heat. So I basically lost any benefit of the purple-ness.

I think if I see purple asparagus at the market again, I might just lightly steam or grill them and then serve it with a traditional hollandaise sauce or a garlic aioli in order to retain the integrity of the royal purple. Or maybe I might just dye the white ones! :P


5 comments:

foodhoe said...

ooh beautiful pictures! You know I like the macro closeup shots... How strange that they don't stay purple... The recipe sounds delicious!

Erin said...

I agree, it's so fun to find interesting produce like this. I'm eager to see what pops up at the farmers markets here in Chicago once the weather finally warms up!

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I think steaming or grilling is the right approach to retain that fantastic purple color - or marinate for a cold salad. Great photos - I would take these home for dinner in a second!

Rebekah said...

did you actually dye the asparagus? I'm doing a science project dying some asparagus, and I wanted to know if you tried it.

Chef Ben said...

Rebekah, that's funny that you thought I dyed them. They do seem kind of dyed, huh? especially since the inside is green. But no, this is how I found them. I think it's probably the original way asparagus grows, starting out purple and then turning green. The question is: Why would you go through the trouble of dying asparagus purple? Why not go for pink or baby blue? ;-)