How to Prepare Asparagus
(NC) - The first step to preparing asparagus is to break off the bottoms of each spear at the point where they snap most easily. The woody bases can be saved for a light soup stock. The spears should be washed in cold running water to rid them of any sand or grit. To lock in the nutrients, flavours, and crisp texture, don't overcook your asparagus. If you plan on serving it cold or using it in a recipe, rinse it well with cold tap water to stop the cooking process.
Asparagus is truly versatile. It can be prepared through virtually every cooking method.
To prove it, here are 5 great ways to eat your asparagus:
Steamed: Place asparagus in a tightly covered steamer for 4 to 8 minutes. Season the water in the pot with salt, a dash of lemon zest, and one tablespoon of lemon juice. Once it is cooked, remove the asparagus, drizzle with a bit of soy sauce, sesame oil and canola oil and sprinkle with freshly chopped coriander, toasted sesame seeds, minced garlic, and minced sushi ginger.
Oven-Roasted: Toss the asparagus in extra-virgin olive oil and place in a baking dish with several cloves of peeled garlic. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven at 450ºF (230ºC) for 8 to 10 minutes.
Stir-Fried: Cut asparagus into 1/2 to 1 inch pieces. Place the pieces in a hot wok or frying pan covered in a bit of sesame seed oil, stirring constantly for 3 to 7 minutes until they're tender and crisp. For an Asian variation add chicken, roasted cashews and fresh sliced ginger to your stir-fry.
Grilled: Brush olive oil over the stalks and place them directly over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Make sure to turn them once halfway through the cooking process. For a fresh alternative serve with lemon aioli. Prepare the aioli by combining pureed boiled garlic, lemon zest, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to serve alongside the grilled asparagus.
Micro-waved: Place 1lb of asparagus in a microwavable dish. For whole spears, arrange the dish so the tips are in the centre of the dish. Add about 1/4 cup water and cover tightly. Microwave at full power for 4 to 7 minutes for the whole spears, or 3 to 5 minutes for the cut spears and tips, stirring or turning the dish halfway through the cooking time. Sprinkle your asparagus with onion and garlic powder along with some lemon juice.
More recipes are available online at www.asparagus.on.ca.