I love discovering new foods at farmer's markets. Last weekend we discovered purple asparagus. I had never heard of purple asparagus! White, yes, and of course green, but not purple.
We were told the purple variety has four times the sugar and is much more tender than its green sister, and that the bigger stalks are the best ones. The vegetable vendor sliced off a piece for us to taste and it was sweet bliss! Eyes roll back in your head good. We grabbed a big bunch and off we went.
The purple cultivar, known as Violetta d'Albenga, was originally produced in the region around Albenga, Italy. It remains purple with quick cooking, such as brisk sautéing, but turns green with longer cooking.
For dinner we grilled some on the barbecue with just a bit of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper, then finished it off with a healthy amount of lemon zest. They turned green, but were still amazingly tender and sweet. Much more so than green asparagus. We also peeled some raw stalks into little ribbons and lightly dressed it with walnut oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. I'm in love. Definitely worth the $8.99 per pound!
Here's a yummy recipe for Asparagus Soufflé.