Food & Drink

Shopper’s Dictionary: Asparagus

What is it? Spring is the time you should be buying and eating asparagus, and the fresher the better. Edward Behr, author of the new 50 Foods: A Guide to Deliciousness (Penguin Books, $25), advises to look for asparagus tips that are smooth and tight, and stalks that are kept chilled and do not appear dry. Asparagus cooked the day it is bought is ideal, but spears can be wrapped in plastic to hold in moisture and refrigerated for several days.

And while raw asparagus is “pleasant,” Behr suggests boiling in salted water for a few minutes, and serving with little more than butter and lemon wedges. Be sure to peel asparagus stalks before cooking for a “sweeter and more delicate” flavor.

Where to find it: Farmers markets, Publix, Winn-Dixie, Whole Foods, Fresh Market and other grocers should have fresh asparagus available through spring. The current national average retail price is about $3.20 a pound.

Evan S. Benn is Miami Herald food editor. On Twitter: @EvanBenn.