Spring is slowly arriving all across the country and with it the first crop of early spring asparagus. This member of the lily family has been revered for its many values around the world for centuries. Many believe asparagus with its phallic shape to have mysterious and erotic powers. Others eat these green stems for their obvious high nutritional content. For a large number of people the idea of eating it either raw or mushy simply makes them cringe at the thought.
It’s All in What You Buy
Once you know what to look for when buying asparagus, the rest of making it a perfect side dish lies in the preparation. One thing you should know up front is that it really does not matter whether you buy thick or thin stalks. This has almost no effect on the end result, it is more a matter of personal preference. Instead of size, you should be looking for stalks that are crisp and bright green in color. The tips of each stalk should be tightly closed. This is a sign that they are fresh and ready to eat.
When you go shopping, you are likely to see both white and green varieties in most areas, and on occasion you might also find a purple variety that will turn green when you cook it. Since none of these varieties stay fresh for very long, you need to keep your purchase in the fridge and eat them within a couple of days after you bring them home.
There are several ways you can prepare asparagus and have it come out tasting amazing. No matter which of these you try, take your time so that you and your family can enjoy this amazing vegetable at its best.
Steaming: Trim the ends off and place the sta lks in your steamer for no more than 4 to 5 minutes to achieve bright green, tender stalks.
Blanching: Fill your pot with just enough water to cover the stalks, add a little bit of salt, and bring the pan to a simmer. Add the stalks and cook for approximately two minutes, then remove and place directly into an ice bath. If you want to boil them go no more than 4 to 5 minutes and you will have tender stalks to enjoy.
Grilled: Grilled asparagus is amazing since it takes on a nice caramelized appearance and taste. Cook over a medium heat for 5 to 7 minutes turning them when the down side shows nice grill marks. You can achieve similar results under your broiler.
Stir Fry: Chop the stalks into 1 to 2 inch lengths on a bias and add to your favorite stir fry vegetable mix. Cook for approximately 5 minutes or until you can pierce the stalk with a fork.