9 Ways To Prepare Asparagus
Seeing fresh asparagus arrive in grocery stores is one sure sign of spring. Looking for new ways to enjoy and prepare this vitamin-packed spear-shaped vegetable, available in green, white, or purple varieties? Here are 9 flavorful, quick, and easy ways to make asparagus!
When shopping for asparagus, look for firm, deeply colored bundles and avoid the limper, paler versions. Remember to cut off the woody, tough, bottom inch or so from asparagus spears before enjoying.
How To cook Asparagus
Traditionally, asparagus is usually cooked. However, thinly shaved pieces make a tasty addition to a classic caesar salad. Use a mandolin or knife to make cuts either from the bottom of the stem, or side, and allow the tips to be used whole. Thinner spears are preferred for raw eating.
Steaming may be done in a steamer, the microwave, or your stovetop by placing a steamer or try using a colander, over a pan of simmering water. Cook asparagus just until the color has intensified and remains firm to the touch. Blanch or shock in a bowl of ice water if desired and to keep the asparagus bright green.
Bring a pan of water to a low boil, add asparagus, and cook for 2-5 minutes. Both steamed and boiled versions may be topped with salt, pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, or the Hollandaise sauce recipe listed below.
Broiled, Roasted or Grilled
Whether placing the spears on the grill (4-6 minutes) or in a shallow pan or on a baking sheet to roast (at 425°F for 10-14 minutes) or broil (8-10 minutes) in the oven, the simple act of coating the spears in a few tablespoons of olive oil, then sprinkling with coarse Kosher salt and pepper to taste, will result in highly appetizing asparagus. Cook until just tender.
Want a bit more seasoning? Add a dash of garlic powder and/or onion powder before cooking. Or cook with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese on top of the asparagus.
Wrapped and Roasted
Give asparagus a savory blanket by wrapping a small bundle with bacon, ham, prosciutto, or pancetta. Prepare asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then roll a bundle of 4-6 spears in a slice of cured meat. Lay bundles in a slotted pan and roast in a 400° oven for 12-14 minutes or until the meat is crispy.
Recipes featuring Asparagus
Consider cutting the asparagus spears to the same approximate length of the pasta shape if using a short pasta like ziti, rigatoni, or cut on a long angle (also known as a bias), if pairing with a longer spaghetti or linguini noodles. Add shrimp or protein of choice.
- 1 bundle of asparagus
- 1 package of dried pasta
- 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
- ¼ cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 stick of butter
- 1 cup pasta water (reserve before draining the cooked pasta)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 pound of medium-sized shrimp (optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons of chopped parsley for garnish
- Prepare pasta according to package directions. Add cut asparagus directly to the pasta water for the last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain and set aside.
- Warm olive oil and butter over medium-heat in a large frying pan then add garlic and shrimp. Cook until the shrimp are pink throughout. If omitting the shrimp, simply cook the garlic until translucent.
- Combine the cooked pasta and asparagus in the pan of garlic (and shrimp) with salt and pepper.
- Stir in pasta water as needed to create a sauce. Add lemon juice and garnish with parsley if desired.
Asparagus Topped with Hollandaise
A classic pairing with both eggs and asparagus is a silky, creamy Hollandaise sauce. It may take a few extra minutes but is so worth the work.
- ½ cup of melted butter
- 4 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Pinch of salt
- Whisk the egg yolks and lemon juice together in a stainless steel or glass bowl until the mixture is thick.
- Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue whisking. Do not let the mixture get too hot or it will produce scrambled eggs.
- Drizzle the melted butter in while whisking.
- Once the mixture has doubled in volume and is thick, remove from heat.
- Whisk in salt.
- Spoon Hollandaise goodness over asparagus or veggie Benedict and enjoy!
Swap Canadian bacon or ham for asparagus for a vegetarian option for eggs Benedict. Toast an English muffin, add a layer of roasted asparagus, a poached egg and top with Hollandaise sauce.
To poach an egg: Heat water in a medium-sized saucepan with 2 teaspoons of white vinegar. Stir simmering water with a spoon to create a whirlpool effect. Drop a cracked egg into the water and stir gently until the white begins to cook. Cook for about 5 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon.
Crostini Asparagus Appetizer
Need a quick and easy appetizer? Toasted bread, a smear of soft cheese, topped with asparagus cooked the way you like – call it crostini and you are a wizard of whipping up tasty treats!
- 1 loaf of your favorite Italian or French bread, sliced
- ¼ cup of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Soft, spreadable cheese like goat cheese or ricotta
- Toast bread
- Top with cheese (add herbs of your choice if desired)
- Finish with asparagus, sliced thinly, lengthwise (cut to the size of the toast round)
- Season with salt and pepper and serve!
Enjoy these quick and simple asparagus recipes any time. They are just as great for weeknights as entertaining and holidays. Gather at the table again with friends and family and appreciate the time together!