How to Cook Asparagus
Mmmm. Asparagus. One of the many foods people either claim to love or hate. There’s not much middle ground with asparagus but sometimes our preference for this delectable vegetable is based upon whether it was cooked properly or not when we tried it for the first time.
How to cook asparagus to its fullest advantage means using the freshest vegetables possible. Many people hail the sight of asparagus as a harbinger of spring, with the vegetable appearing on traditional menus that celebrate Easter each spring.
Once the spring harvest is passed, the remaining asparagus can grow tough and woody although there are ways to cook it deliciously, even during the summer months. Light and delicate are two key words to consider when learning how to cook asparagus.
A quick boil or steaming is ideal for this tender shoot. For how to cook asparagus that everybody will enjoy, use only slender shoots that are about six to eight inches long. The stem end may be a bit tough but it’s easy to trim. Just gently grasp the tip of the asparagus in one hand and the stem end in the other and bend them toward each other.
The stem will snap at the point where the tender, edible shoot meets the woodier part that may prove too tough to bother with. How to cook asparagus is done best in a tall pot with a lid. Asparagus is best cooked standing on the stem end, in only an inch or two of water, with the lid intact to retain and use the steam that comes off the water. There are specially designed asparagus pots available, many of which come with removable perforated baskets, much like those used to make pasta, but the special equipment isn’t required.
It’s quite simple to improvise an adequate asparagus pot. One little trick to remember for how to cook asparagus that looks as inviting as it tastes is to add a tablespoon or two of lemon juice or vinegar to the cooking liquid. The acid content of these foods will help retain the vibrant green color of the vegetable.
Cook only until the color reaches its greenest peak and then remove the asparagus from the pan.
How to cook asparagus best means knowing how to stop the cooking process, too, before the vegetable becomes gray in color and spongy in texture. Drop the just-cooked shoots into chilled or iced water immediately after removing from the cooking pot to get the best results. Once you’ve mastered how to cook asparagus to perfection, you’ll want to experiment with ways to serve it. It’s classically served with Hollandaise sauce but is also great tossed in a pasta or green salad or cooked a bit further in an omelette or frittata. But, as with all foods, there are no rules. The imagination is the best source for recipes. The most important step is to simply enjoy.