Properly cooking asparagus is a culinary balancing act in which timing is everything. Even a few extra minutes can potentially transform a delicate, nutrient rich and flavorful vegetable into expensive, tasteless mush. However, well-prepared asparagus can be a side dish, salad ingredient or main course.
To cook asparagus, you will need:
- 1 Bunch of asparagus
- Small bowl
- Measuring Spoons
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Skillet or wok
- Asparagus steamer
- Sea salt
- Black pepper
- Serving tray
- Select fresh asparagus. Cooking asparagus actually begins at the supermarket. Choose uniformly sized straight stalks that are a rich green in color and feature tight, purple tips.
- Wash the asparagus. Before cooking asparagus, place it in a colander and rinse it in the sink. Remove any dirt by gently rubbing the stalks with your hands. Pat the stalks dry with paper towels.
- Trim the stalks. Asparagus stalks get tough towards the end. Grasp the cut end in one hand and the middle of the stalk with the other. Bend the stalk toward yourself until the tough end snaps off.
- Cooking asparagus in the oven. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Pour about five tablespoons of olive oil in a small bowl. Gently massage each asparagus stalk with oil. Place asparagus in single layer in the rimmed pan and season with salt and pepper. Bake for about ten minutes or until brown blisters appear on the skin.
- Cooking asparagus by stir-frying. Cut asparagus into pieces about 1/2 inch long. Heat one to two tablespoons of oil in a wide skillet or wok. Constantly stir the asparagus pieces over medium heat for about five minutes or until the pieces are tender but still have a little bite. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cooking asparagus by steaming. Divide the bunch of asparagus into bundles. Then tie bundles of asparagus together with some string and stand them in the asparagus steamer with the tips facing up. Test the asparagus for doneness after about five minutes. It should be tender but crisp.
- Serving the asparagus. Transfer the cooked asparagus to a serving tray. Spritz the asparagus with a few squeezes of lemon just before serving.
Timing is the main factor in cooking asparagus. Too little cooking time and the asparagus maybe hard in the middle. Too much cooking time and the asparagus may turn into unappetizing mush. Well-cooked asparagus, like well-cooked pasta, should be al dente, or tender with a little bite.