The arrival of local asparagus in stores is one of my favorite culinary signals of spring. I just found (not so local) organic asparagus at Trader Joe’s and had to pick them up in hopes that cooking them would melt the snow outside a little faster. Asparagus has such a unique and delicious flavor, we can’t get enough in my house!
Always, always peel the stems. Otherwise you will have varying degrees of tough stringiness. My favorite way to cook asparagus is to roast them in the oven at 400* for about 10 minutes (time depending on the girth of the stems). It is so quick and simple and is out of the way so you can focus on whatever else you are bringing to the table.
The classic french way that we are taught in culinary school is to tie them in small bunches (about 6-7) with kitchen string and cook in boiling salted water until tender-crisp, then place quickly in an ice bath. While that produces beautiful, perfect asparagus… when I am cooking at home for my family on a weeknight I go the quick, easy route that is equally delicious and that is roasting. You can also pan roast them and throw them in a quiche. I have lots of quiches recipes Here and a few call for this beautiful vegetable.
When we’re talking about vegetables I don’t care about the calories. You can count them all you want, but as long as you don’t have them covered in harmful oils, cheese, butter… I eat the veggies until I’m full and don’t feel bad about it. For one cup of asparagus you will get 2.95g protein, 2.81g fiber, Vitamins C, A and K, folate and a bunch of other beneficial trace minerals. Whenever you are looking for nutritional information you can search the USDA site and you will get a breakdown for almost anything.
1T your oil of choice, I use Olive
Salt to taste (I use Pink Himalayan)
You can add lemon zest, juice or shave some Parmigiano-Reggiano over to bring it to the next level.
1. Pre-heat the oven to 400*. Snap each stem where it naturally bends, as close to the bottom to get the biggest yield. You can freeze what you snap off and save for a future vegetable stock. Peel the base stem of each asparagus.
2. Place the asparagus on the sheet pan, drizzle the oil and toss with your hands. Place in the oven for about 10 minutes depending on the size, until tender-crisp. Season with salt/whatever you like!
Whether they are roasted, boiled and plated as a salad with hard boiled eggs, in a quiche or in soup (Emeril’s Asparagus Soup is hands down the best recipe if you are looking!) asparagus is an incredibly versatile vegetable.
Like anything else, the most local/organic and with the season is always going to be the best tasting and best for your health. So head to your local farm and ask when you might expect them to be ready. Asparagus grow super fast, you can head to the field in the morning and see the tops poking out and have them a few inches taller, ready to harvest by the end of the day. There is nothing like a just picked asparagus, unwashed, uncooked straight from the field.
There is also wild asparagus that grows all over the world. When I was hiking in Sardinia there was wild asparagus all over the mountain and we just ate it all along the way. Wild asparagus is very skinny, long and not quite as strong in flavor.
Let me know your favorite way to enjoy asparagus!
USDA.gov. 4/1/2019. FoodData Central Search Results. 3/2/2021.<https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168389/nutrients>