Purple Asparagus: Super Stalk or Dinner Destroyer?

Asparagus is a common vegetable we've all seen in the store. Asparagus is great paired with a steak dinner or eggs with hollandaise sauce, but did you know that there's more to asparagus than the green variety you can find easily at the grocery store? If you grow your own veggies, you probably know that many vegetables and fruits can come in different shapes and sizes from what you see at the store. The next time you're shopping at Whole Foods, don't run away from the strange pigment you see in purple asparagus. This wonder food is definitely one you should add to your plate tonight.

What is Purple Asparagus?

Asparagus adds flavor to any dish, and asparagus with a purple color is no exception. Asparagus varieties include green, purple, and white asparagus. Purple and white are often seasonal. Purple asparagus owes its color to a compound known as anthocyanin, which causes foods to be red, purple, or black. Anthocyanin is responsible for the pop of color seen in cranberries, rutabaga, and turnips, and is a strong antioxidant.

All three fresh asparaguses grow in early spring, are often found at local farmer's markets, and have roughly the same health benefits. Still, there are a few differences to note between the varieties.

According to Spruce Eats, the purple asparagus plant "...is a bit nuttier and sweeter because it has about 20 percent more sugar in its stalks. While the stalks are purple on the outside, the interior of the asparagus is the same as a green spear." It is also rich in antioxidants.

When cooked, the purple variety also turns green. Unlike purple cabbage, which can ruin the look of a dish, purple asparagus loses its color quickly while cooking, making it perfect for beautiful plates.

How to Cook Purple Asparagus.

The lower part of asparagus roots can be tougher, so you might want to peel them after cutting off the toughest parts of the plant. "I cut the very tough bottoms off, then peel the lower part of the spear. Don't peel too far up or you'll lose the very reason you bought them in the first place, that color," Evan from KCRW says.

"I lay the trimmed, peeled stalks directly on a baking sheet. No parchment. It will be a little messier, but you want the heat from the metal to transfer to the asparagus. Drizzle an olive oil you like over them, then add salt and pepper," he continued.

After which, you can take this purple passion asparagus and roast it. You can also add a bit of lemon juice over the top of the asparagus spears for some extra acidity.

Since the purple mostly comes off while cooking, there's no need to serve green asparagus alongside its purple cousin. If you want an extra pop of color, serve with some sweet potatoes for a gorgeous solution to your side dish struggles. Enjoy!