When asparagus are in season, Italians eat them every which way--from simply boiled to baked or fried, and in soup, pasta, and risotto. Both green and white varieties are eaten, with white more delicately flavored and tender. These pale stalks are kept covered from the sun's rays as they grow, blocking chlorophyll development, which would turn them green.
I like both thick and pencil-thin asparagus. I use the thick ones in recipes where the asparagus need to withstand cooking for long temperatures or at high heat, such as in baked and fried dishes. Thin asparagus are good in salads and with pasta.
Soak asparagus in cold water before trimming and cooking. The tips can be sandy. If you like, peel asparagus with a swivel-blade vegetable peeler. Snap off the bases first, then peel them.
From "1,000 Italian Recipes." Copyright 2004 by Michele Scicolone. Used with permission of the publisher, Wiley Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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