Asparagus are long, slender vegetables that grow as shoots in spring and early summer. The straight, firm stalks, which range from pencil thin to as thick as your thumb, are prized for their delicate flavor; the tender tips have a particularly delicate flavor and texture. The most common variety is green and sometimes tinged with purple at the bud. White and all-purple stalks are also available in farmers' markets and well-stocked grocery stores. Look for asparagus with crisp, straight stalks and tight buds. Wrap in damp paper towels and refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 4 days. Trim the stalks before using.
To trim asparagus:
Cut or snap off the tough ends and discard. If desired, peel the bottom third or half of each stalk with a vegetable peeler for a more tender texture.