How to Cook Asparagus

Asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be prepared in several ways, such as on the stovetop, in the oven or grill. It adds flavor to salads, stir fries and egg dishes alike.

Prior to cooking, it is essential to thoroughly rinse fresh asparagus to eliminate any sandy residue. This can be accomplished by holding it under cool running water for a few moments.

Steaming

Steaming asparagus is an efficient, straightforward, and delicious way to cook this nutrient-rich vegetable. It locks in its vibrant flavor so it goes great with many dishes.

Boiling or blanching asparagus can lead to overcooking, turning it a dull olive green and eroding its water-soluble vitamins. To maintain the vibrant hue and flavor of steamed asparagus, we suggest using a vegetable steamer basket to raise the stalks above boiling water for better color retention and flavor.

To prepare asparagus for steaming, thoroughly scrub it under cool running water and trim any dry ends off the spears if necessary. Thin stalks may need only four minutes to cook, while thicker varieties may take up to six minutes.

Blanching

Blanching asparagus is an efficient, quick way to maintain its vibrant green and crisp-tender state. It can be cooked just like sauteing or roasting it, making it suitable for adding into salads, pasta dishes, pizzas, frittatas and more – the possibilities are endless!

To prepare your asparagus, trim the ends to remove slimy or mushy tips and then bundle a few spears together for blanching. Thick stalks may require peeling if you plan to cook them in an oven or grill; however, thinner spears are snappy without needing peeling.

Once cooked, immerse the asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process and maintain its crispiness. Once cooled, use immediately or freeze for later!

Sautéing

Sauteing asparagus is an effortless way to transform it into a nutritious side dish. Just be sure to use a heavy pan, like cast iron, so as not to scorch the spears when cooking at high temperatures.

Before cooking asparagus, deBoschniak recommends trimming away any woody bottom inches from each spear before you add it to the pan. Doing this prevents overcooking and turning brown instead of crisp, according to deBoschniak.

Once cooked, enjoy asparagus as is or in a variety of dishes — from side dishes to main courses. Add your favorite seasonings and herbs as well as some lemon juice for even more flavor!

Stir-Frying

If you need a fast way to cook asparagus, stir-frying is your answer. Not only does it expedite preparation time, but it also keeps the greenery vibrant without compromising flavor.

First, trim away the woody bottom inch of each spear and rinse them thoroughly. A bend-and-snap is the best way to break off tough ends, though you can also use a knife.

Heat oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat and add asparagus stems. Stir-fry until just wilted, about one minute.

Stir-frying asparagus can be a delicious alternative, but if you’re not a fan, roasting is another delicious option. Just be sure not to overcook it – or your asparagus will become mushy and limp.

Roasting

Roasting asparagus in the oven is an effortless and delicious way to cook this vegetable. Plus, it’s packed full of fiber, vitamins A, C and K, folate and potassium – making it a nutritious side dish as well.

For optimal asparagus cooking, the first step in preparation is trimming off any tough woody ends. While exact location of this woody end varies from stalk to stalk, you can usually tell when it’s time for trimming by looking at where tender part of the spear ends and tough fiber begins.

Once your asparagus spears have been trimmed, add a drizzle of oil and season them with some basic spices. A pinch of garlic powder or freshly minced garlic also works nicely!