Asparagus 101: How to Pick, Prepare, and Cook it
Asparagus can be a finicky vegetable. If you've ever had poorly prepared asparagus, you know the risks. On their own, the stalks are fibrous and tough, and the flavor certainly suffers as well because of it. However, you don't have to cut away the whole stalk to use it, you just have to know how to prepare it prior to steaming, roasting, or whatever other preparation you choose.
Picking Your Asparagus
- The thickness or thinness of your asparagus doesn't matter - what does matter, however, is that your bunch of asparagus is firm, their heads are uniformly sized, and the stalks are all straight.
- Since asparagus goes bad quickly, it's better to buy asparagus that's been refrigerated and use it within 2-3 days of purchase.
- Many people like to wrap the bottom of their asparagus stalks in a damp cloth or paper towel to keep them fresher, longer.
Preparing Your Asparagus for Cooking
To get the most out of your asparagus with any method of cooking, you should peel the outer skin off from the main stalk. This is not necessary for the tender upper part of the stalk, but it will help you get a lot more mileage out of the bottom.
- Rinse off your asparagus. Cut off the very tough, hard end of each stalk and discard it.
- Pinch the head of the asparagus gently and use the peeler to remove all of the outer skin of each asparagus stalk from the head down.
Cooking Your Asparagus
These are a few basic methods of cooking asparagus plain. Regardless of what method you use, asparagus cooks very quickly, so keep that timing in mind!
- Steaming: Tie your bundle of asparagus twice - once just beneath the head and once at the bottom. In a pot tall enough to fit the length of the asparagus, boil at least 2 inches worth of water and place your bundle inside. With this method, the bottom of your bundle is boiled, but the top of your bundle is being nicely steamed. Cover the pot and let it steam for 5-8 minutes.
- Boiling: Lay the stalks down in a pan covered by 1 inch of boiling water for about 5 minutes. If you want the asparagus to retain their color and crispness, you should blanch them immediately after they're done by plunging the boiled asparagus into ice cold water.
- Roasting: Preheat your oven to about 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a lightly greased baking sheet with your asparagus stalks. Roast them for about 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.
Here are a few Yummly asparagus recipes for you to try out at home!