An Asparagus Anniversary

A year ago, Hubby Bryan and I were preparing for our trip to Germany to see exchange sister Heidi in Munich and other good friends in Worthington’s sister city of Crailsheim. I was debating the weather and what to pack, while Bryan was anticipating the variety of beers and sausages he would be able to sample there.
We wish we were planning another such sojourn, but it’s not in the cards for this year, so we have been reliving a few of the memories in recent days.
One of the culinary highlights for me — aside from the beer and sausages, of course — was that our trip coincided with white asparagus season, and if I close my eyes and concentrate real hard, I can just about taste that delicacy topped with a Hollandaise sauce. Yum.
In our part of the world, white asparagus is much more scarce, although you find it once in a while in the grocery store for an extravagant price. I may have to splurge if I do find some this year.
The white variety is grown through the process of etiolation — a big word that basically means the deprivation of light. Dirt is piled around the emerging stalks, depriving them of light and consequently stunts the production of chlorophyll, which turns them green. So, white asparagus is basically the same as green, just an albino form.
However, there’s more to it than just color. White asparagus has a milder flavor and is much more tender than its green counterpart. Who would think that just depriving a plant of sunlight would have such a dramatic effect on taste and texture?
The asparagus we ate at several meals in Germany was also much bigger than what we typically find here — more the size of a hotdog than a pencil.
While I may be craving the white asparagus, I’m making do with the green stuff. Green asparagus has been on the menu a few times as we wait for the weather to get more spring-like.
On today’s Food and Lifestyles pages, you will find a couple of asparagus recipes, and here two more from my own files.

Individual Asparagus Frittatas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12-cup muffin tip with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, whisk 10 large eggs, adding ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Sauté 1 cup chopped onion in 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until softened. Add 1 clove garlic, minced, and 1 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces, and sauté 1 minute longer. Let cool briefly.
Combine asparagus-onion mixture with eggs. Sprinkle a teaspoon of Swiss or Cheddar cheese into each muffin cup, then divide egg mixture among them.
Bake until set in center, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove frittatas as soon as possible to keep them from sticking.

Lemon-Sesame Asparagus

Wash and trim ends from 1 pound fresh asparagus.
Layout 4 paper towels and spritz with water. Place asparagus on top of the dampened towels and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roll up the asparagus in the towels, and lay the bundle, seam side down, in the microwave. Microwave on high until just crisp-tender, 3 to 4 minutes. Use tongs to remove from microwave and carefully unwrap.
Meanwhile, toast 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in a dry frypan over medium-high heat until lightly golden. Set aside.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter. Whisk in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and 2 teaspoons honey.
Toss cooked asparagus with the honey lemon butter and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Do you have a delicious asparagus recipe or other seasonal favorite? Please share it by emailing; or send to Features Editor Beth Rickers, Daily Globe, Box 639, Worthington 56187.

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