White asparagus has a mild, delicate flavour, with a hint of nuttiness.
It is grown under mounds of soil to protect it from the light that would turn it green, and the spears are usually harvested early in the morning before the sun can spoil their milky white colour.
The season is short, running from mid-April until early June.
Choose the best
Look for dry, unbruised spears that are creamy pale in colour, and have their delicate tips intact.
The spears tend to be a bit fatter and chunkier than green asparagus, so it's a good idea to peel them. Peel the tough outer layers of the stalks, leaving the tips. Cut or snap the tough root end from the spears, as these can be stringy when cooked.
White asparagus takes at least twice as long to cook as green, and requires about 10-15 minutes of cooking. It's best to steam the spears in a steamer pan or trivet – rather than boiling them – to prevent overcooking.
Flavour partners include anything nutty (such as walnut or hazelnut oil), truffle shavings and salty ingredients like capers, anchovies or olives. Scatter the warm spears with small salty shrimp or crispy lardons, or dress with a mustardy vinaigrette and thinly sliced Spanish ham. White asparagus is traditionally served topped with chopped boiled egg and vinaigrette in Belgium, but it's equally great with poached egg and hollandaise sauce.