How to Cook Asparagus Perfectly

. November 12, 2018
Photography by Manja Waschmuth.
How to Cook Asparagus Perfectly

A favourite flavour of the new season – the time is right for asparagus…

Make the most of the short asparagus season – so simple to prepare and so delicious to eat, it is a perfect vegetable for almost any meal.

Use asparagus as soon as possible after it is picked or purchased.

Snap off the woody ends, or if you prefer, trim with a knife and peel the end with a vegetable peeler.

Wash well in cold water to remove any grit or sand.

Blanch using one of two methods:

1) Stand upright in an asparagus basket so only the thick ends are in salted, simmering water. Cover and steam.

2) Bring a shallow, wide pan of salted water, about an inch deep, to the boil and lay the asparagus spears flat in a single layer. Simmer gently until the asparagus is just tender.

Whichever method you choose drain and serve the asparagus immediately or refresh it under cold water to halt the cooking process.

One of the best ways to eat asparagus is dripping with butter and lemon juice and using your fingers! But asparagus goes with many other things:

  • lemon
  • bacon, prosciutto and pancetta
  • eggs
  • mustard
  • Hollandaise sauce
  • toast
  • garlic
  • butter
  • olive oil
  • anchovies
  • olives
  • Parmesan, gruyere cheese
  • tarragon, parsley, rosemary
  • potatoes
  • mushrooms
  • smoked salmon, scallops
  • walnuts
  • fennel
  • tomatoes
  • avocado

Simple ways to prepare asparagus

  • Toss in olive oil, sea salt and freshly ground pepper, and grill or roast.
  • Blanch and add to a risotto, keeping the tips to add just before serving.
  • Blanch in salted water and serve:
    • hot with butter and a squeeze of lemon juice
    • with a dollop of hollandaise sauce
    • with a lightly poached egg
    • with a lemony herb mayonnaise
  • Blanch, refresh under cold water and roll in fresh, generously buttered white bread OR spread the bread with lime mayonnaise as well.
  • Make a thin omelette and fill with blanched asparagus and crumbled feta cheese OR make a frittata with plenty of Parmesan.
  • Serve under creamy scrambled eggs.
  • Wrap asparagus spears in pancetta and roast with rosemary and anchovies.
  • Braise asparagus in a little chicken stock with other spring vegetables such as broad beans, peas and green beans, baby carrots and turnips.
  • Make an anchovy and caper mayonnaise for dipping raw asparagus.
  • Top grilled asparagus with pan seared scallops.
  • Toss pasta in a lemon and olive oil dressing and add blanched asparagus tips, halved cherry tomatoes and lots of fresh herbs.
  • Top hot roasted or grilled asparagus with chopped hard-boiled egg, crumbled crispy bacon and shards of Parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice and season well.
  • Thinly slice asparagus and fennel bulb and toss with toasted walnuts. Dress with a walnut oil vinaigrette.
  • Serve on a breakfast platter with smoked salmon, soft boiled eggs and horseradish cream.
  • Serve asparagus with Romesco sauce.
  • Toss cooked soba noodles with blanched asparagus and dress with a soy and mirin dressing.
  • Dress steamed asparagus with an Asian vinaigrette made from soy, rice wine, sesame oil, garlic, chilli and lime juice.
  • Add to a stir-fry with shiitake mushrooms.