How to Cook Asparagus

How to make the perfect asparagus from grilling it to roasting it to steaming it. Everything you need to celebrate asparagus season.

Asparagus, with its short growing season, is one of those springtime treats. Sure, you can get frozen asparagus any time of year, but it’s not the same as fresh.

California asparagus harvest begins in February – supplies peak in March, April, and May – then taper off into June. U.S. asparagus is grown in California, Michigan and Washington.

Below are a few simple ways to cook up asparagus. From grilling to roasting to steaming, here are the main methods for adding more asparagus to your diet.

How to Prepare Asparagus

You probably think you know how to prepare asparagus. If your answer is just snapping it by holding it from end to end, then you would be wrong. Yes, you can prepare asparagus that way. However, it wastes so much of the edible veggie.

The white woody end is the only piece you really need to remove from the asparagus. Instead of holding it end to end, hold it on both sides of that white woody end and snap it there. Far less is wasted!

My preferred method is to cut it[LINK]. You can line up the asparagus such that the white ends are mostly aligned and just chop it from there. Considering America wastes 40% of the food grown here, doing what you can to waste less really helps.

Cooking Asparagus

Sweet, slightly bitter, with an earthy grass flavor, asparagus is spring. It’s like a fresher and brighter version of broccoli. It can shine with just a bit of lemon, olive oil, and salt, or it can stand up to heartier sauces like hollandaise.

One thing to consider about asparagus when cooking is cook time. The thickness of the asparagus plays a big role in how long it takes to cook. Your biggest indicator is color. Asparagus will go from a rich dull olive green to a bright, vibrant green as it is cooked.

How long that takes is a factor of time. So keep that in mind as you try out these various methods. You might have to adjust along the way.

How to Grill Asparagus

  1. Preheat the grill.
  2. Toss asparagus with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  3. Lay asparagus stalks across grates.
  4. Grill asparagus until they begin to char, about 5 minutes.

How to Roast Asparagus

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Lay the asparagus on a baking sheet in an even layer.
  3. Coat asparagus with olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and lemon juice.
  4. Roast until tips are lightly browned, about 10 minutes.

How to Steam Asparagus

  1. Place the steamer basket in the pot.
  2. Add water. Do not exceed the steamer basket.
  3. Add asparagus and cover.
  4. Cook on medium-high until bright green, about 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer cooked asparagus to an ice bath if not eating immediately.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.

How to Sauté Asparagus

  1. Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces.
  2. Melt butter over medium-high heat.
  3. Add asparagus and salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Sauté until lightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes.

How to Boil Asparagus

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
  2. Salt the water (always do this after the boil for stainless steel pans).
  3. Add the asparagus.
  4. Cook until bright green, about 3 minutes.
  5. Transfer cooked asparagus to an ice bath if not eating immediately.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste.

How to Blanch Asparagus

  1. This method is the same as boiling it.
  2. Cook asparagus for 1 minute, just as it brightens.
  3. Transfer cooked asparagus to an ice bath.

How to Buy Asparagus

Spring is the best time to buy fresh asparagus for both cost and flavor. Choose spears with tight, firm tips. The bottoms should be firm and not wilted. This is where asparagus loses moisture, so if the skin is not taught, it is not fresh. Thinner, firm stalks tend to have a better flavor.

How to Store Asparagus

Asparagus is best stored like cut flowers. Trim off just a bit of the woody ends and store them in a jar with a couple of inches of water. You may need to place a bag over the top, depending on your fridge. Stored this way, asparagus can keep fresh for weeks.

You can find even more asparagus recipes from California Grown right here.

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