One of Spring’s earliest and sweetest treats is asparagus. How to cook asparagus is the key to keeping it sweet. And although there are dozens of asparagus recipes on line, the most simple ways allow you to better enjoy the sweetness.
Although you hear a lot about steamed asparagus they can’t hold a candle in sweetness to sauteed asparagus. If by some chance you are boiling your asparagus – please cease and desist immediately — as you are killing not only the vitamins but the taste.
If you want that melt in your mouth sweetness try this:
Put a tablespoon or so of oil like olive oil or canola in a stainless steel frying pan. Add the cleaned asparagus spears no more than two layers deep. Shake the pan back and forth until the asparagus are coated with the oil. Get the pan up to heat on medium. Lower heat to low. Place top on pan at an angle so that it will not* seal. (If you cook them with the top on it will totally change the taste.) Shake pan every 5 minutes or so. Cook until fork tender. This will be about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears.
*(If you’re afraid the top will “fall” into place by itself — cook without the top to be safe. It’ll just take a bit longer.)
Serve warm as is. If you want to get a bit fancier rub a little butter on them and/or top with fresh grated parmesan cheese.
An Option That Requires Less Attention
A friend and reader of TMG sent me an email telling me she had tried another way of fixing asparagus that she felt brought out the sweetness. I tried it the same night and although I don’t like it as much as sauteed spears, it’s great if you just need to get them cooking; set the timer; and do something else.
Put a little bit of olive oil on a baking sheet and roll the spears in it until all are coated. Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes or until tender. (Mine took 30 minutes to reach tender.)
Harvest and Eat/ Harvest and Keep (a while)
Whether I’m keeping my asparagus until dinner or until the next day, this is how I keep them. Immediately after harvest place them in a container so they’ll stand upright. Add about 1 or 2 inches of water. Store in the frig until you use them. Some folks say to put a plastic bag over them, but I never have.
Keep in mind they are at their peak the first day and decline after that. So although it’s possible to keep them nicely for a few days, you won’t get that peak flavor.
Here are some sources for Asparagus you might want to check out.
Related posts: Growing Asparagus
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I’m going to try that tonight.
I am going to try that method…sounds delicious!
I often blanch the stalks in boiling water for 1-1 1/2 minutes then immediately plunge them into an ice water bath. This is especially nice with the tender smaller stalks that are coming up each day.
We just put in a new bed of Jersey Knight. We had planted part of our first asparagus beds near enough to a black walnut that they all failed after the first year of picking (year 3 for the plants).
The Walnut is coming down, if this wet weather clears up long enough for the tree guys to get their heavy equipment in. Sigh…
As always, Theresa, thank you for your wonderful posts.
I think you’ll really enjoy it, Beppy. Let me know.
Nice to hear from you Gail.
Too bad you lost part of that first asparagus bed because of the Walnut tree. They take some time to get to the harvest point but they sure are worth the wait once you get them. Good luck with this new bed!
Let me know how you like the sauteed asparagus.
Theresa, our asparagus started coming in a little over a week ago! Whenever I harvest, I eat several spears raw right there in the garden. Our favorite way of cooking it is GRILLED! It is rare that my hubby has time to grill, so I have resorted to roasting it in the oven. It is just too easy to cook it that way, and we find it quite to our liking.
I read recently that petunias will repel the asparagus beetle (as well as other malevolent insects). I have never noticed many asparagus beetles in our patch, but I am always looking for practical reasons (excuses) to plant flowers! LOL!
Pat, I think I’m going to try that oven grilling! Bill and I always looked forward to the asparagus and ate them everyday during their season.
Petunias would certainly be a beautiful addition to the vegetable garden whether they do or don’t repel the beetles.