Asparagus is a versatile spring and summer vegetable. It typically needs very little prep to turn out wonderfully. Asparagus can be sauteed, baked, roasted or steamed. One of the easiest ways to make asparagus is by baking it in foil. It does not require any pans or extra steps, simply enclose in foil, season and bake.
Different Ways of Baking Asparagus in Foil
Baking asparagus in foil in the oven typically takes 20 to 30 minutes on 350. The main variation lies in how cooked you prefer them. Longer cooking times yield a softer product, while less cooking results in a crisp-tender product. There are two ways of cooking asparagus in foil. You can either spread the foil out like a baking sheet or you can create a foil packet wherein the asparagus is completely enclosed while cooking. In either method, drizzle with olive oil and/or dot with butter to taste, then add seasonings such as salt and pepper, herbs, and garlic. In the foil packet method, you may also want to add a liquid to the mix to help create extra flavors during steaming. White wine, vermouth, lemon juice, a little chicken broth or balsamic vinegar are all good choices. When the asparagus is done, sprinkle a few tablespoons of Parmesan cheese over the top.
Bake Asparagus in Foil on the Barbecue!
Using foil is actually one of the best ways to bake asparagus on an outdoor grill or barbecue. The foil protects the asparagus from direct heat while imparting a nice, smokey barbecue flavor. Some tips for cooking asparagus on the barbecue in foil are as follows. Prepare the asparagus as you normally would, rinsing and snapping off woody ends. Place the asparagus in enough foil that you can fold into a loose packet. While the foil is open, drizzle with a little olive oil and dot with a tablespoon or so of butter. Then, choose a seasoning. Salt and pepper are the most basic choices, but they still lend plenty of flavor especially when combined with grill smoke. You can also try lemon pepper seasoning salt, garlic or add herbs to a salt and pepper shake. Some good herbs for asparagus include parsley, marjoram, thyme and tarragon. Seal the packet by folding the top over and place on the barbecue on indirect heat. A barbecue temperature of around 300 will take about 20 to 30 minutes to cook about a pound of asparagus.
Picking Out the Best Asparagus
Asparagus is at its best when it is very fresh and crisp. Look for asparagus with a bright green color and a crisp appearance. The tops of the vegetable should be dark green or purple and tightly closed. Yellowing, flowers or a loose appearance are all signs of an old vegetable. It is also recommended that you look for thinner asparagus for best flavor. Very fat asparagus can have an overly strong taste and can be stringy or tough. Stalks should not be overly bendable either as this is a sign that it is starting to rot.
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