Asparagus season is very short so we need to make the most of it.
Asparagus, with its slender stalks and vibrant green hue, is a quintessential spring vegetable that boasts not only exquisite flavour but also a wealth of nutrients. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a novice cook, mastering the art of buying, storing and cooking asparagus can elevate your culinary skills to new heights.
In this post we will unravel the secrets behind this versatile vegetable, guiding you from the supermarket to your dinner table.
Look for asparagus that is not too thick to avoid the asparagus being woody and tough.
I like to give the tips of the asparagus a little discrete sniff. The tips can rot very quickly and you will be able to smell if they are beginning to rot.
Asparagus doesn’t last long so you need to eat it as soon as you can. However, you can store asparagus in the fridge. Place the asparagus in a glass or a jar with about 2cm of water and place in the fridge. Cover the top loosely with a plastic bag to maintain moisture and consume within 2-3 days.
It’s important to discard the woody ends of each asparagus spear as they can be tough and hard to chew. The easiest way to do this is to hold each spear with both hands towards the bottom of the stalk. Bend the spear until it snaps. It will naturally break where the tender part of the spear starts.
Asparagus can be prepared in various ways, each bringing out its unique flavour and texture:
Boiling: This is the easiest way to cook asparagus. Place asparagus in a frying pan full of boiling, salted water. Cook for approximately 2 minutes (you want the asparagus to still have a bit of crunch but be cooked through). Drain well, place on a plate and drizzle with olive oil, squeeze on a little lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Otherwise, try drizzling the asparagus with my simple sauce (recipe below).
Steaming: Steaming asparagus preserves its nutrients and vibrant colour. Simply steam for 3-5 minutes until tender-crisp, depending on thickness.
Roasting: Roasting enhances the natural sweetness. Toss trimmed asparagus with olive oil, salt and pepper, then roast in a preheated oven at 200°C (400°F) for 12-15 minutes.
Grilling/BBQing: Grilled asparagus develops a smoky flavour. Coat the spears in olive oil, grill for 2-3 minutes per side over medium heat until charred and tender.
Pan-Sauteing: Sauté asparagus in a hot pan with garlic and butter or olive oil for a quick and flavourful side dish.
Here is a very simple sauce you can make to drizzle over cooked, hot asparagus -
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp finely chopped herbs (dill, chives, tarragon or parsley)
salt and pepper to taste
Place the ingredients in a small jug and mix to combine. Pour over the hot asparagus and serve immediately.
Asparagus, with its unique flavour and versatility, can turn any meal into a gourmet experience. By following these tips and exploring different cooking methods, you can savour the essence of spring in every bite. Enjoy!