There are many ways how to cook asparagus depending on personal preference and tastes. Cooking canned asparagus is a simple matter of heating the contents until it is hot. However, fresh asparagus produces a much better flavor and texture.
Regardless of the chosen method to cook asparagus, always choose fresh and crisp, in season produce with good color. Thick asparagus stalks will take longer to cook and are often tough and stringy. Choose thin stalks, rinse well and cut off the end stalk. Cook asparagus until reaching the desired crispness but do not overcook. Asparagus should be semi-soft and firm.
Cook Asparagus by Steaming Steaming asparagus is a great way to retain many of the nutrients of asparagus. Using this method to cook asparagus will result in a crisp, brightly colored vegetable. The following tips can be used to successfully steam asparagus.
- The amount of time required for steaming asparagus will depend on the asparagus’ stalk thickness and quantity to be cooked. Steaming generally requires more cooking time then boiling.
- Steam asparagus until it reaches the desired consistency. Do not overcook asparagus.
- An electric streamer can be used according to the directions which came with the steamer. Generally, water is added to the bottom and a single layer of vegetables is placed in the steaming basket.
- A double boiler can be used. Fill the bottom pan with a few inches of water and placing the asparagus in the vented top pan with a tight fitting lid.
- If a steamer or double boiler is not available, a large pot and a colander will serve the same purpose. Fill the large pot with a few inches of water and place the asparagus filled colander on top of the pot. The colander should fit inside the pot without sitting in the water or touching the bottom. Cover the colander with a lid to retain the steam inside the pot.
Cook Asparagus by Boiling Boiling asparagus is often much faster than steaming and using this method to cook asparagus produces a softer textured, less colorful vegetable. The following tips can be used to successfully boil asparagus.
- Again, the cooking time will vary depending on thickness, quantity and desired texture. It is important to remember that overcooking asparagus will result in a less flavorful, soggy and mushy vegetable.
- Cover the boiling pot with a lid. This will allow the asparagus to cook faster.
- Asparagus should lay flat in the pot. If the asparagus bends or does not fit in the pot properly, a bigger pot can be used or cut the asparagus in smaller pieces.
- Adding a little salt to the pot will help asparagus retain its bright green color as it cooks. Garlic salt, lemon pepper or other seasonings can also be added to the boiling water which will add extra flavor to the cooked asparagus.
Cook Asparagus by Roasting Roasting asparagus takes the longest to cook, however using this method to cook asparagus allows for more variety and creativity in serving options. Asparagus can be roasted alone or with other vegetables and works well for marinating and blending flavors. Use the following tips and suggestions for successfully roasting asparagus.
- Roast asparagus in a single layer on a flat baking sheet at 400 degrees. Cooking times can vary but are generally around half an hour.
- Any variety of flavors can be used to marinate the asparagus before roasting. Use butter, margarine or olive oil as the base.
- For a nutty flavor, try roasting asparagus with ground pecans, chopped garlic and melted butter. Mix the items together and spread on the baking sheet.
- An Italian dressing, or other vinaigrette, can be used to marinate the asparagus before roasting. Just before cooking the asparagus, toss with enough dressing to lightly coat the asparagus and lay it out flat on the baking sheet.
For additional recipes and ways to cook asparagus, look for The Asparagus Festival Cookbook by Barbara Hafly and Glenda Hushaw or other asparagus cookbook.