Find out how to cook white asparagus.

Jessie Price

Find out how to cook white asparagus.

At this time of year, in parts of Europe the first appearance of white asparagus is so revered that full-blown festivals mark the season. Chefs and home cooks alike go crazy for the slightly milder, colorless spears. So what is white asparagus? The difference between white and green asparagus: white asparagus is grown underground. Growers cover the spears in mounded dirt or black plastic tunnels so that they're not exposed to light and don't produce chlorophyll (which would turn them green).

The delicately sweet spears demand kid-glove treatment in the kitchen too. Lay spears flat on a cutting board and peel the bottom two-thirds of each spear with a vegetable peeler. Boil in a large skillet filled with several inches of water until very tender, 10 to 20 minutes. (Don't leave them tender-crisp as you might with green asparagus.) The traditional way to eat them is with your fingers, dipping them in hollandaise sauce.

Get the recipe: Hollandaise Sauce

Or, for an easy dip, stir together 3 tablespoons each nonfat plain Greek yogurt and low-fat mayonnaise with 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and a pinch of salt.

March/April 2013