Easter in France
A Favorite on the French Easter table
A Favorite on the French Easter Table
You are right, it’s asparagus. But not just ANY asparagus. It is white asparagus from the Loire Valley, the first of the season and just in time for Easter. The stalks are big, fat, and juicy with a delicate, round vegetal flavor that is almost impossible to describe. Milder than green asparagus, its cousin, the flavor of white asparagus is delicately unmistakably vegetale and nutty. The best way to genuflect in front of its flavor is to braise it in a tiny bit of water with bay leaves and sea salt, perhaps a bit of pepper. Braising coaxes all the sweet flavor from the asparagus while the bay leaf infuses it with just the right amount of herbaceous hint.
We are always excited for white asparagus, and tend to eat it often because the season is so short, from the end of March to the third week in June. Thanksfully, green asparagus appears towards the end of white asparagus season, and offers a whole new asparagus experience.
Green Asparagus vs. White Asparagus
Green asparagus can be prepared exactly the same way as the white asparagus in the video, though it doesn’t need peeling (you may if you like, but the skin of green asparagus is very tender). No matter how you prepare green asparagus, the fatter stalks are always the most flavorful. They differ dramatically from white asparagus, offering more intensity, since its chlorophyll has developed to give it a grassy-green flavor. Serve them together if you can; they make a great and flavorful opposition on the plate!
BRAISED WHITE OR GREEN ASPARAGUS WITH HERBS - ASPERGES VERTES OU BLANC BRAISÉES AUX AROMATES
- 2 pounds;1kg green or white asparagus
- 2 tablespoons;30ml extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup;125ml water
- 2 fresh bay leave
- ½ teaspoon thyme leaves
- Sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
- Chive blossoms - optional garnish
- Sort the asparagus by thickness.
- Place the olive oil, the water, and the herbs in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the thickest asparagus pieces first. Turn the asparagus so it is coated with the oil and water mixture and when the water and oil come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook the asparagus until it begins to turn tender, about 4 to 5 minutes for green, about 8 minutes for white. Add the thinner asparagus stalks, toss and stir gently so they are coated with the water and oil, then continue to cook until all of the asparagus is tender, an additional 3 minutes for green, 4 to 5 for white.
- When the asparagus is nearly tender through, remove the cover and cook it, shaking the pan and stirring it, until any liquid in the pan evaporates.
- Remove the asparagus from the heat and serve immediately.
- 4 to 6 servings