An abundance of asparagus is a sure sign that winter is over and warm weather is finally here. These tall, thin shoots may be green, white, or purple and have a distinctive earthy flavor. Cooking asparagus enhances the vegetable's flavors, but the long, narrow shape leaves some cooks scratching their heads trying to figure out how to prepare asparagus. If you're wondering how to cook asparagus, try one of these tried and true methods.
1. Blanch the Spears
One of the most common techniques for cooking asparagus is to blanch the spears. Chef Jamie Oliver recommends tying spears together into bundles before dropping them in boiling water. Cook them for no more than 5 minutes and immediately submerge the cooked asparagus in ice water to stop the cooking process and preserve the vegetable's natural crispness.
2. Roast It
Roasting asparagus is one of the easiest ways to cook it. Heat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Jamie Oliver adds olive oil, salt, pepper, a few cloves of garlic, and some lemon zest before placing it in the oven. In 10 minutes, you have perfectly cooked asparagus that you can serve as a side or add to another dish.
3. Stir-fry the Tips
Asparagus doesn't require a lot of cooking time, which is one reason you should try stir-frying it. This method is also a good way to use up smaller pieces of asparagus. According to Martha Stewart, you can use a non-stick skillet or wok. Heat some oil over high heat and toss in the asparagus with salt and pepper. Stir the asparagus as it cooks, adding water as needed to keep it moist.
4. Toss Asparagus on the Grill
Grilled asparagus has a charred, smoky flavor that pairs well with grilled meats and other barbeque fare. For best results, look for wide stalks or use a grilling basket so the pieces don't fall between the grill grates. Dress the asparagus with olive oil, salt, pepper, and fresh lemon juice before placing it on the grill for a couple of minutes.
5. Add Asparagus to a Tart or Quiche
The natural flavor of asparagus is an interesting addition to a tart or quiche. Martha Stewart combines asparagus with gruyere, goat cheese, eggs, and cream to make a tart that's ideal for brunch or a picnic lunch. The asparagus' texture is a nice balance for the custard-like tart. You can also add asparagus to any quiche recipe.
So, how do you cook asparagus? With all of these recipe options available, you don't have to settle for one way. Experiment in your kitchen and determine what works for you. View Food Lion's Recipe Portal for more recipe inspiration.