Nothing says springtime like bright, green stalks of asparagus. But how should you cook it? Asparagus lends itself to many easy and quick preparations, and all will have delicious results. You can saute, grill, roast or boil asparagus. Cooking asparagus is easy. You’ll have it in a snap!
No matter which method of cooking you choose, the preparation is the same. First, rinse the stalks with cold water. Dry the stalks with a towel. Then, snap off the woody bottoms of the stalks. Simply pinch the thick bottom of the stalk and bend. The stalk will break at the right spot. If your asparagus stalks are thin, you are done. If your asparagus stalks are fat, you may wish to use a vegetable peeler to lightly peel the thicker, bottom portion.
The goal with asparagus is to cook it until it is “tender-crisp.” If you undercook asparagus, it will be tough. If you overcook asparagus, it will be mushy. You want to find the sweet spot in between. The key is to pay attention.
To saute asparagus, choose a saute pan that is large enough that the asparagus will fit in a single, uncrowded layer. Heat butter in the pan over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus stalks. Use a spatula to briskly move the stalks about the pan. The asparagus will be done in three to six minutes, depending on thickness. When done, the asparagus will turn bright green and you will be able to pierce a stalk easily with a fork. It’s okay to test the asparagus. If you aren’t sure if the asparagus is done, remove a spear from the pan, let it cool slightly and taste it.
To grill asparagus, first drizzle the prepared asparagus with olive oil, and then place the spears on the grill. Cook for two to three minutes. Watch the asparagus closely. It is done when it appears slightly wilted. Remove the asparagus from the grill, sprinkle with kosher salt, and serve.
To roast asparagus, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Place asparagus in a shallow, glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place in the preheated oven. Roast in oven for 7-14 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Asparagus is done when it is bright green and can be pierced easily with a fork. Remove from oven and place on a serving dish.
Boiling asparagus is a good method when you want to serve the asparagus cold, or if you will be using cooked asparagus as an ingredient in a another dish such as a quiche. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus. Boil for two minutes. Remove a spear and test it. When the asparagus is tender-crisp, drain and submerge in ice water. When asparagus is cooled, remove the spears from the ice water and drain on a towel.
Asparagus is scrumptious without any adornment. But if you want to jazz it up, you can add lemon, garlic or herbs to any of the above preparations. Asparagus is also often served with hollandaise sauce.