Well there are many excellent ways. But first things first. However you cook your asparagus, the first step is to prepare it.
Wash It. First, you do need to wash the asparagus well. Asparagus is grown in sandy soil so you need to rub the stems between your fingers under running water to remove any grit that may have gathered on the stalk.
Snap It! Next you need to remove the end of the stalk. Hold each stalk towards the base, bend and snap. Somehow asparagus magically snaps at the correct spot so that the woody, less palatable portion is removed. Yes, really! This usually means that the bottom third or so is removed.
Peel It? If you wish, you can also peel the stalks by removing a thin layer with a vegetable peeler or sharp knife. This is a personal preference.
On the delicate pencil-thin spears, it's really not necessary. However, thicker, more woody stalks are tougher and may need peeling. White asparagus tends to have a tougher skin so peeling is generally recommended.
White asparagus is grown in the dark to deny the plants of light. The absence of light means that chlorophyll is not produced and the plants do not become green. It is very popular in mainland Europe and has a milder flavour than the green variety.
The classic French method is to tie the stalks together in bunches and cook in fast-boiling salted water in a tall pot until tender.Boiled asparagus takes about 4 minutes of cooking although this will vary somewhat, depending on the size of the stalks you are cooking.
When cooked, the traditional way to serve asparagus is warm, topped with butter or hollandaise sauce or at room temperature dipped in a homemade mayonnaise or tossed in a French vinaigrette.
This is undoubtedly a tried, trusted and delicious way to cook asparagus but there are many other wonderful methods.
I love to steam asparagus. If you are wondering how to cook asparagus in a wonderfully simple and healthy way, take a look at this article on how to steam asparagus.
Asparagus makes a wonderful soup. Try this recipe for chilled asparagus soup for a very special treat.
Here's how to cook asparagus in the oven. This is probably my favourite way of all but I am a sucker for any kind of roasted veggies.
For 4 people, take 1 pound/450g of asparagus and toss with 1½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, a little coarse salt (about ¼ teaspoon) and freshly ground pepper. It's a good idea to do this in a ziploc bag to ensure that the vegetables are well coated but you can just use a large bowl if you prefer.
If you want to vary the flavours, a splash of lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and some crushed garlic are good additions too - but not essential. Spread the asparagus out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at 450F/225C for about 10 minutes. If you like it crunchy, cook for 3 or 4 minutes more. And that's it!
If you feel like adding another twist, try this yummy baked asparagus recipe with lemon, butter and parmesan.
Simple roasted asparagus and red sweet pepper are used in this quinoa pilaf for a tasty and healthy dinner.
Here's how to cook asparagus on the barbeque grill. Prepare the asparagus just as you would for the oven as above. Toss with olive oil and seasoning and place on a hot barbeque grill for 3 to 4 minutes. Simple as that but very, very tasty.
Asparagus has a short shelf life and should be eaten as quickly as possible. When buying asparagus, ensure that you are getting the freshest produce possible by choosing crisp looking spears with tightly closed tips. You can keep asparagus in the salad drawer of your fridge but the ideal way to store it is standing in a jug of water in the fridge, loosely covered with a polythene bag. To enjoy it at its best, don't store it for more than a day or two.
Asparagus may have a short season and a short shelf life but if you find yourself with an abundance, the good news is that it freezes very well. Frozen asparagus maintains its colour and flavour remarkably well.
To freeze, you first need to prepare your asparagus. Begin by snapping off the tough ends of the stalk. Next you need to quickly blanch the vegetables in boiling water. For thin stems this will take about 2 minutes but for the fatter stalks you will need to blanch for about 4 minutes. If you have a wide variation of size, it's a good idea to separate your spears into thick and thin and blanch them separately.
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