How to Cook Asparagus, the Easy Way
Asparagus is one of those vegetables that many people enjoy when they go out for supper, but rarely cook at home. For some reason, it has a reputation for being a complicated or exotic…the only thing you can do wrong with asparagus is overcook it. You don’t need a fancy pan or anything. My favourite way to cook asparagus is as follows, although you can prepare it in other ways, like roasting it. I personally feel that the asparagus loses something in the roasting process.
First, purchase the best asparagus you can find, as you would everything you buy to consume. That means that the stalks are not dried out, and the tips have not fallen off or gone mushy and indistinct. It should be firm, a pretty green with a purplish tinge to the tips. Some people like fat stalks, others prefer thin – neither is necessarily better. The important thing is that it is as fresh as possible.
Once you have washed the asparagus, take each stalk and snap the end off. Don’t cut them! If you snap the end rather than cutting, the stalk with break where the asparagus is not dried out. Knowing this, you may have to snap the stalk in half and discard the bottom part. Keep moving up the stem and bending slightly until it snaps.The end result may not be restaurant-perfect, but will be far better than if you just cut it and hope for the best.
Place the asparagus in a shallow frying pan and add about 1″ of water. You do not need to submerge the asparagus. Bring the water to a boil and cook the asparagus for just a couple of minutes, until it turns bright green but is still firm. This is literally a COUPLE of minutes. If you absolutely do not want crisp, firm asparagus (and who wouldn’t?) you can cook it for just a short period longer to make it more tender – but no more than a couple of minutes longer.
The Romans apparently used to have an expression: “Do it in less time than it takes to cook asparagus”, which means…quickly! Your bit of trivia for the day.
Lift the cooked asparagus out of the water with a slotted spoon or spatula and let the water drip off, and place it on a platter. Now you can use your imagination…just butter, salt and pepper is lovely, but branch out with your favourite sauce (cheese or hollandaise are two classics). Of course, lots of chopped garlic and parsley with a drizzle of olive oil and squeeze of lemon juice works for me 🙂