Asparagus

Peel Asparagus, Fry the Trimmings

April 17, 2016

Asparagus prep can be contentious.

Snapping off the end of each spear is fun, but who knows if it really snaps precisely where the tender part meets the woody part. Plus, you’ll end up with spears of all different lengths; not a huge deal, unless you’re extremely detail-oriented and want your platters of asparagus to look photo-shoot ready.

Slicing off the ends gives you more uniformity, but you’re still left with asparagus nubs not fit for the dish at hand—the cast-offs are either destined for soup or the compost bin.

Photo by James Ransom

There is a third option, though, for reducing the likelihood your asparagus-eating will be interrupted with unpleasant stringiness. You can peel them. Amanda Hesser once referred to this technique as “a little old school,” but as we all know by now, "old school" is more compliment than dig. Trendy things that are actually old news come back for a reason.

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We’re not talking about shaving the entire spear, mind you, as would be done for a salad, just peeling away some of their most fibrous parts. Plus, you'll get the added benefit of not having to squirrel the peelings away for later (or feel guilty about composting them): You’re using them right away, to create something equally as delicious as your (now tender) peeled spears—Fried Asparagus Trimmings.

Photo by Bobbi Lin

Recipe author (and Food52 recipe tester) Anna Francese Gass says, “You’ll never make asparagus again without peeling off the bottoms.” I know I won't be.

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Top Comment:
“If the trimmings are too tough to eat on the asparagus what makes them edible when they're peeled off?”
— Nora R.
Comment

The serving suggestion—“1 to 4”—of her recipe depends on how generous you’re feeling. I selfishly hoarded most of my first batch, deeming them a cook’s treat, devouring each hot, salty strand while shooing my husband out of the kitchen, declaring that dinner wasn’t done yet. If you’re up for sharing, Anna tucks them into sandwiches, piles them on salads and pasta dishes, and tops poached eggs on asparagus spears with the fried trimmings.

The ingredient list is short, but you need to stick to it—there’s no substitute for the Wondra flour. If you can’t find it in your neck of the woods, it is available online.

Know of a great recipe hiding in the Food52 archives that uses an overlooked kitchen scrap (anything from commonly discarded produce parts to stale bread to bones and more)? Tell me about it in the comments: I want to know how you're turning what would otherwise be trash into a dish to treasure!

11 Comments

Mary N. May 16, 2016
Wondra similar to rice flour? And left over food trick is to use flat champagne to make champagne vinegar.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. May 16, 2016
Wondra is a very fine, low-protein wheat flour (it also has some malted barley flour in it too).
 
isolde May 16, 2016
having grown up on a farm in Germany and having learned all the farmer's basic kitchen tricks, I remember my mother always taking lemon and orange peels and cutting them into big chunks, putting them into a small pot of water, and keeping them on a low simmer all day...It gave the house a delicious and healthy scent. She often added some cinnamon and vanilla. We never discarded any food scraps..This was one household trick I (now in my 80's) still use.
 
Andrea N. April 20, 2016
Wondra is such an under-appreciated ingredient. Refreshing to see it pop up here.
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 20, 2016
I'm excited to have a supply on hand now! What are your favorite uses for Wondra?
 
Nora R. April 18, 2016
If the trimmings are too tough to eat on the asparagus what makes them edible when they're peeled off?
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 18, 2016
Deep-frying them!
 
Danielle H. April 17, 2016
Can you also recommend this recipe for white asparagus trimmings?
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 17, 2016
Yes, the trimmings from any color of asparagus will work. :)
 
Ness April 17, 2016
Quick note: your link to buy Wondra Flour redirects to a cookbook, not the flour!
 
Author Comment
Lindsay-Jean H. April 17, 2016
Thanks Vanessa, it should work now!