family produce project, healthy living

family produce project-purple and white asparagus

Our second week of family bonding over veggies proved to be just as fun as the first.  No, seriously.  It has been so much fun for all of us to just hang out in the kitchen, cooking and laughing together.  There may be a few moments of everyone trying to take charge and be the boss of everyone else, but honestly, if that didn’t occur in a kitchen of four daughters and a mom, I may have to look out the window for flying pigs.


The veggies chosen this week were asparagus.  However, we didn’t choose the regular green vegetable that my girls are decent fans of.  We found both the purple and the white variety and thought we would check out how they compare to what we already know.


In their raw state they are actually quite pretty.  I never think of white when I think of produce.  I think of bright green and deep reds and warm oranges and yellows.  Seeing a bundle of cauliflower colored stalks is just different.  They definitely have a clean, crisp Spring vibe.  If they weren’t five dollars a pound, they would even make beautiful centerpieces- the tidy bundles placed in bunches down the table’s center- tied up with pretty twine or ribbon. What a simple, rustic, natural look.

But this is a food post, not a decorating how- to, so back to the veggies. The purple stalks are just as pretty.  They are a deep, dark hue with a gorgeous texture.  And, to our surprise, once you cut into it, the inside is green!


When we got these home, we had to figure out how to prep the stalks for cooking.  The purple aren’t too different than regular green asparagus.  You simply wash them, snap off the ends, and chop them to the desired size.  And this really not a sad step in the produce prep, as my daughter would have you believe with her expression.  In reality, I think she’s feeling like her sister is taking too long with the we-haven’t-used-it-in-a-while carrot peeler (see below) and that she has waited longer than enough for her turn.


The white asparagus, having a tougher outer skin, do require peeling.  The girls took turns using the vegetable peeler and got them all trimmed up.  These needed the ends snapped, too, and are more fragile to work with.  They are also smaller so we were careful to not waste too much of it in the prep. More often than not, when we got to peeling, the stalks would break at some point.  It really wasn’t a big deal since we were chopping anyway, but it was a bit of nuisance to chase rogue pieces when you’re in your peeling groove.  And our hopeful dog goes for rogue pieces of most anything, but asparagus are not one   (Note the purple piece, untouched, on the floor next to him.)


While a couple of the girls are peeling and chopping,  the other two are looking up how they want to cook these.  They all decided sautéing was the way to go.  So, they found a simple recipe of using part olive oil, part butter, garlic powder, salt and pepper, and sautéed each color separately.  They started with the purple first.  Once we got it cooking, we learned that they don’t stay purple- they turn green!


We did a little research right then, and that is a fact of cooking purple asparagus.  They turn a green to bronze color but keep some purple accents when cooked.  There’s nothing wrong with it, of course, but if you want to retain the beautiful contrast of the purple skin and green flesh, you can eat them raw. They would look oretty to just slice them in thin pieces and add to a salad.  Never peel the purple skin off or you’ll lose the phytonutrients and antioxidant power that it’s color provides!


All in all, both of these were a keeper.  The girls all agreed they would eat these again, so yay!  It was fun to see them try each one and do their best to decipher the different flavors and textures each provided.  The purple were preferred, maybe because they do have a slightly sweeter flavor.   The white had a slightly tender, more crisp texture to them.


Aside from the prep and the cooking, here are a few fun facts we learned:  white asparagus are grown without light.  It’s a process called etiolation.  The dirt is kept mounded up around the emerging stalks, to keep the light away.  This prevents photosynthesis from occurring.  The plant will not produce any chlorophyll, which is what would turn it green. This is obviously labor intensive for the grower and adds to the cost of the product.  White asparagus are considered a delicacy in Europe as well.  And nutritionally speaking, one cup of asparagus provide 3 grams of fiber, 4-5 grams of protein, and antioxidants.  They are high in vitamins A,B, C and K and are a good source of copper and iron.


After just a couple of weeks of intentionality in the kitchen, my girls do seem more at ease with using basic kitchen tools and following a simple recipe’s directions without asking me 85 questions before each step.  They seem more confident.  They’ve also already picked out the next produce we will try next week.  I can take that one of two ways:  either they secretly enjoy their mother’s food nerd tendencies and kitchen lessons, or they are appeasing me in hopes that they’re scoring brownie points to keep in the bank for the future.  Either way, we get time together doing something productive and fun and are making memories along the way. Bon appetite! 🙂




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