The distinctive yet pleasantly mild flavor of fresh-picked asparagus takes on a whole new zesty profile when it is pickled. Immersed in a spicy, vinegary brine, spears of the plump, pencil-shaped vegetable become tangy and ready for a tasty debut on the dinner table, at the bar or in a summery picnic basket. Cast the debonair pickled asparagus spear in a starring role or make it a supporting actor for blockbuster meals.
Replace the classic celery stick or the trendy pickled green bean in a bloody Mary with a single, fat spear of pickled asparagus. Pick up a tall bottle of asparagus when you are stocking up for cocktails to ensure the veggie stands upright in a highball glass -- the traditional glassware for serving the blend of spiced tomato juice and vodka.
Heat pickled asparagus to serve as a side dish with pork chops, smoked kielbasa, roasted game and other dishes that are typically served with sauerkraut. Mound the asparagus on a platter -- all aligned in one direction for visual appeal -- and supply tongs for easy transfer from the serving dish to individual plates.
Transform an ordinary relish tray into an elegant crudite platter by jazzing up the arrangement of fresh vegetables with pickled asparagus. Use small stacks of the long, straight spears as colorful, edible dividers between the standard components of celery sticks, baby carrots, radishes, olives and cauliflower florets. Homemade mayo or sour cream with fresh-chopped herbs makes a mild-mannered dip for the piquant asparagus and other veggies.
Spice up barbecue and picnic fare by inserting pickled asparagus in food with which you would serve hamburger chips or other pickles made from cucumbers. Top a juicy burger straight off the grill with spicy asparagus and aged cheddar for a savory spin on a summertime classic. Add sliced pickled asparagus to potato salad or garnish deviled eggs with just the tops of the asparagus spears.
- Pickled white asparagus, similar in flavor to the green variety but often pricier due to its rarity, brings a touch of gourmet flair to formal dinners and cocktail parties.
- If you make your own pickled asparagus rather than buying the bottled variety at the store, follow the recipe proportions for vinegar and water precisely to ensure that sufficient acid is present to ensure food safety.
Denise Schoonhoven has worked in the fields of acoustics, biomedical products, electric cable heating and marketing communications. She studied at Newbold College and Middlesex Polytechnic in the UK, and Walla Walla University. A writer since 2008, Schoonhoven is a seasoned business traveler, solo tourist, gardener and home renovator.
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