Quebec asparagus likes our dandelions!

I see more and more announcements about dandelions. People are being invited to let dandelions grow in May to help with
pollination.

Our dandelions are better known as weeds than as constituents of a salad. And yet, Europeans eat its leaves, root, flower buds and flowers, and have done so for centuries. Did you know that the dandelion likes our Quebec asparagus?

Asparagus is one of the first local vegetables in our grocery stores in springtime. You’ll find green, white and sometimes purple asparagus. Asparagus is actually the young, edible shoot which emerges from an underground branch called a “claw”. This claw can produce for 15 to 20 years. At maturity, asparagus is no longer edible. The green ones are picked at about 15 cm. I love the thin ones grilled for a few seconds on a barbecue with a few flakes of “Saint- Laurent” sea salt and some dandelion leaves. When they are thicker and tougher, I prefer to peel them lightly and sparingly, and eventually make “chips” with the peels.

White asparagus, which grows protected from light, is more tender but less flavourful. I like to eat it with a small ball of dandelion butter, a few morels, hazelnuts and fresh parsley. Purple asparagus is harvested when just a few centimetres out of the earth. Asparagus is best when firm and crisp … when “breakable”. The cooking time is important. If you cook it in boiling water, plunge it in ice water immediately
afterwards.

The cooking method changes the aromatic structure. A sauvignon blanc wine pairs with a steamed asparagus, whereas a grilled or fried asparagus is best with a glass of cabernet sauvignon or malbec. When green asparagus is on the menu, opt for light cooking in water to join complementary foods such as dandelion. Add freshness and richness with homemade crème fraîche, crunchy cucumber and nuts.

Perhaps you’ll see the dandelion differently in the future, and think about how to use the “weed” with our Quebec asparagus.