How To Properly Cook Asparagus for Delicious Meals

How To Properly Cook Asparagus for Delicious Meals

Asparagus is one of those vegetables that most people simply walk past in the grocery store. They either claim that they don’t like it (not having tried it at all) or they don’t know how to cook it.

Thankfully, you’re in luck because here, you’ll not only learn how to cook asparagus properly but also why you should add this tasty vegetable to your regular diet.

Are you ready to learn more about the mighty asparagus from the experts at My Fit Foods? If so, read on for asparagus recipes and more.

Facts About Asparagus

You’re probably already familiar with the way that asparagus looks. It’s sold in small bundles and individual stalks, depending on where you shop. Each piece of asparagus is long with small joints running up the stalk.

The top section is the most delicate, with tiny segments that look like leaves. However, the entire stalk of fresh asparagus (top, woody ends, and all) is edible and can serve as an excellent side dish when paired with a squeeze of lemon juice from a fresh lemon, black pepper, and maybe a bit of parmesan cheese.

Health Facts

Asparagus is extremely good for you, which is why you see it added to plenty of meals. It’s more than just a plate filler at fancy restaurants! In case you’re wondering, one cup of asparagus (cooked, not raw) contains a mere 40 calories.

It also has 3.6 grams of fiber, 4.4 grams of protein, and .4 grams of fat, making it a great addition to the keto diet. A cup-sized serving of this tasty vegetable also has plenty of vitamins and minerals, including phosphorus, folate, potassium, vitamin E, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin C.

Types of Asparagus

The green colored asparagus spears that you find at the grocery store aren’t the only type available. You can also find them in different colors, like purple and white. Purple asparagus comes in a vibrant purple, as the name implies. When you cook it, the color will change to very dark green. This doesn’t take away from the taste though!

White asparagus can be tough to find in the U.S. because it’s mainly a European variety. However, you might be able to find it at specialty grocers. Unlike green and purple asparagus, this kind needs to be peeled and cooked thoroughly before you eat it.

Otherwise, it will be very tough. In addition, you shouldn’t cook both white and green (or white and purple) asparagus together. The cooking methods are too different. The recipes described below are for either green or purple asparagus.

Asparagus Sizes

With that said, asparagus comes in several different sizes as well. You can use the length and diameter of each spear to determine what you’d like to do with the vegetable. For example:

  • Small and Thin – You can cut up these spears and toss them in a stir-fry or leave them as-is and stir fry them anyway. Sauteing with other veggies is another meal suggestion for small and thin asparagus.
  • Medium-Sized – In the middle of the road, as far as asparagus is concerned, you can use medium-sized spears in any type of meal or cook them in any way that you please.
  • Large, Thick Spears – Rather than slice large asparagus spears, why not leave them whole? You can either grill or roast them as they are and serve them without worry.

Prep Time

Before you start cooking with asparagus, you first have to prepare each stalk. You’ll need to remove the bottom ends (which feel slightly wood-like). This is done by holding the spear in both hands, one at the bottom and one towards the top, and snapping them.

The asparagus will break at a natural point, usually where the moisture has left the stalk. The top parts are good to eat, but the ends should be discarded.

While you don’t need to peel smaller and thinner spears, you should remove the tough skin from thicker or larger ones. The skin on those just won’t cook as well, so the vegetables will be less tender. Simply use a vegetable peeler or a thin knife to remove the skin.

How To Cook Asparagus

You can cook asparagus in a variety of ways, either on the stovetop, on the grill, or in the oven. Options include:

  • Roasted asparagus
  • Baked asparagus
  • Crispy air fryer asparagus
  • Grilled asparagus
  • Sauteed asparagus
  • Steamed asparagus

There are many different ways to cook asparagus, and nearly all of them are correct. It all comes down to your preferences. Choose one of these recipes as an experiment to see if you enjoy asparagus cooked in that way or alternate between all of them. No matter what, you’re adding some healthy asparagus to your lunch or dinner.

Grilled Asparagus

If your stalks are big enough, you can place asparagus directly on the grill with tongs. However, if you’re worried about them falling through the slats into the fire, feel free to grill one to two bunches of asparagus on top of a piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil.

Start by preparing your asparagus, removing the bottom ends and the thick outer skin. Then, place the remaining parts of the spears (the tops and middles) on a clean cutting board or in a bowl, depending on their size. Sprinkle olive oil on top, as well as sea salt and pepper, and then place your asparagus on the grill.

Cook for around eight minutes or until the spears are tender. You’ll need to flip them halfway through.

Steamed Asparagus

If you have a steamer that you use for other vegetables, like broccoli, you can use it for asparagus as well. Prep your spears and then place them in the steamer basket. In the pot, pour in a few inches of water. Allow the water to come to a boil and then place the steamer basket on top. Allow the asparagus to steam for around four minutes total time.

Keep in mind that asparagus spears that have been piled on top of one another may not cook thoroughly, so you’ll need to cook them in batches before serving. Once you serve them, your guests or family can add a pinch of salt and pepper and lemon zest to taste.

Blanched Asparagus

While you may not want to eat blanched asparagus straight out of the pot (although you definitely might, if you love the veggie), this method of cooking is great if you want to add asparagus to pasta, salads, or even eggs.

Slice your asparagus into smaller spears, around one inch long. Make sure to discard the bottom ends and peel them beforehand if necessary. Place a bowl of cold water off the side of your stove. Prepare a pot with salted water and allow it to boil. Add the asparagus to the pot and allow them to boil for one minute.

Pull them out of the boiling water (a slotted spoon works best) and place the spears in the cold water. They are now ready to eat.

Roasted Asparagus

If you want a simple method of cooking asparagus, try roasting them. Prepare your asparagus, then place them in a single layer on a baking sheet that’s been lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle them with olive oil and salt and pepper. Roast at 425 degrees Fahrenheit for 14 minutes of cook time and then serve. Store asparagus leftovers in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

The Mighty Asparagus

As you can see, there are many different ways to cook asparagus. If you’re looking for more meal inspiration, contact us here! We can help you choose the meals that will best suit your taste buds!

Sources:

How to Cook Asparagus | The New York Times

How to Cook Asparagus - Easy Recipes to Grill, Roast & Sauté Asparagus | Delish

7 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Asparagus | Healthline