How to Clean and Cook Asparagus (plus recipes)

Asparagus is a popular spring vegetable that is rich in nutrients, low in calories and high in fiber. It can be eaten raw or cooked, and in the spring it’s an addition to many spring dishes. Here are some tips for how to clean and cook asparagus plus a few delicious asparagus recipes.

uncooked asparagus on a cutting board

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When is asparagus in season?

Even though asparagus can be found year-round in the grocery store, asparagus season typically starts in early spring and lasts through June. This means that you can enjoy the freshest and most flavorful asparagus during this time of the year. Whether it is grilled, roasted or sauteed, the spring is the best time of year to take advantage of this deliciou vegetable.

Asparagus is packed with health benefits! It’s a great source of vitamins A, C, E and K. It’s low in calories and high in antioxidants. It’s also know for it’s anti-inflammatory properties which can contribute to overall well-being. You can read more about the health benefits of asparagus on healthline.

How to choose the best asparagus

Before preparing your asparagus, you will need to buy it, here are some tips for choosing the freshest asparagus. First, ensure the asparagus stalks are bright green and free from signs of shriveling. The stalks should be firm and the asparagus tips should be tight with no sign of them being mushy or wet.

Check the bottom of the spears. They should look moist, thick, fibrous, and off-white in color. If they’re brown, keep looking for another bunch.

During peak asparagus season, look for local asparagus at a farm or supermarket. It’s much fresher, usually less expensive, and tastes better than any asparagus that’s been picked miles away and shipped to the store.

asparagus in a basket

How to clean and prepare fresh asparagus for cooking

It’s simple to clean asparagus! Start by placing the asparagus in a colander and rinsing the spears under cold running water to remove any debris and fine grit. Then pat it dry with a towel. This should be enough to remove the grit from the asparagus. If the asparagus is dirty or has dirt stuck, use your fingers to scrub it off gently.

Once the asparagus is clean, one of the easiest ways to remove the tough ends of the asparagus stalks is to snap them off by bending the spear at the bottom portion. It will snap exactly where it should at its breaking point; where the stem becomes tough and woody.

If you prefer a more uniform look, you can use a vegetable knife to trim off the tough ends instead. Once they are trimmed, you can use a vegetable peeler to remove the lower part of the stalks if they are thick and tough.

How to store fresh asparagus

Trimmed asparagus can be stored in a mason jar or large glass with an inch of cold water at the bottom to cover the ends. It will last this way in the refrigerator for three to five days, depending on how fresh it was when you bought it.

If you don’t have room in your refrigerator for a jar or glass, you can also wrap a damp paper towel around the trimmed bottoms of the asparagus and store them in your crisper drawer.

asparagus cooking on a grill basting

How to cook asparagus

Asparagus is so easy to cook and there are various ways to prepare it.

When it is grilled or roasted, asparagus will have an earthy and slightly sweet flavor. When it is steamed or sautéed, it has a softer texture and a more mellow flavor. Experiment with various cooking methods to discover your preferred preparation.

Roasted asparagus

Roasting asparagus is one of our favorite ways and it’s so simple. For basic roasted asparagus, you will need a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Arrange the asparagus spears in a single layer on a baking sheet, and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast them in a preheated oven (400 degrees f) for 10 minutes. Sprinkle the roasted spears with a pinch of salt and pepper and serve.

You can also try adding a few simple ingredients to add more flavor to roasted asparagus, such as shredded parmesan cheese, or chopped almonds. Here are a few recipes for roasting asparagus.

Grilled asparagus

Grilled asparagus is very similar in both appearance and preparation to roasting. The taste will be slightly different, you will notice a hint of smoky flavor when it’s grilled.

To grill asparagus, you will only need olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Place the asparagus spears in an oblong dish and brush them with olive oil. Heat a gas grill to medium-high heat. Once the grill is hot add the asparagus and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, turning midway through the cooking cycle.

As with roasted asparagus, you can add more ingredients for more flavorful asparagus, here are a few grilled asparagus recipes to try below.

Tip! A grill topper will help to keep the asparagus spears from falling through the grill grates.

Steamed asparagus

Once steamed, asparagus will be bright green and slightly crispy, and it’s probably the healthiest way to enjoy asparagus.

To steam asparagus, you will only need asparagus, water, and a steamer basket. Here’s how to steam fresh asparagus; place the asparagus spears in a steamer basket in a pan with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan.

Cover the pan and cook on high heat until steam forms and cook for three to four minutes.

Try adding a knob of butter and a spritz of fresh lemon juice or lemon zest to your steamed asparagus or toss it in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

asparagus cooking in a skillet with wooden spoon

Sauteed asparagus

Sauteed asparagus is another easy way to cook asparagus. You will need a little bit of butter or olive oil, salt, and pepper. When sauteing asparagus, it’s easier to saute asparagus when it’s cut into bite-sized pieces instead of long spears.

Heat the butter or oil over medium heat in a large skillet, add the asparagus and toss it around in the pan for about 4 minutes until it starts to become crisp tender.

Once the asparagus is cooked, you can serve it as is or add some lemon juice or soy sauce for more flavor. You can also sautee asparagus and add it to dishes such as omelettes, frittatas, salad, risoto, pasta and more, see the recipes below.

  • Asparagus risotto – Made wit sauteed asparagus in an Instant Pot, but can easily be made on top of the stove.
  • Asparagus Frittata – Asaragus and mushrooms are quickly sauteed and added to a frittata.

Blanching is a simple technique that helps to preserve asparagus’s (or any vegetable’s) vibrant color. It also softens asparagus, making it a perfect addition to salads, stir fries, or other dishes where you want a crisp texture and fresh vibrant flavor.

To blanch it, boil a pot of water and prepare a bowl of ice water on the side. Once the water is boiling, gently place the asparagus spears into the boiling water for about 2 to 3 minutes, then quickly transfer the asparagus to the ice water bath to stop the cooking process.

Serve blanched asparagus tossed in olive oil and lemon, add it to salads or stir fries.

There are various types of asparagus to choose from, with green being the most popular. One thing that remains consistent is the flavor profile and ease of preparation of each variety. Whether you choose green, white, or purple asparagus, you can expect a delicious, tender, and earthy flavor that requires only simple cooking methods.

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Asparagus FAQs

Which is better, thick or thin asparagus spears?

There really is no difference between thin or thicker asparagus spears when it comes to flavor. The difference, other than the size is the texture. Thin asparagus spears tend to be tough and the ticker spears are more tender.

Do you need to soak asparagus before cooking it?

You don’t really need to soak asparagus before cooking it. A simple rinse under water should be enough to get the grit off of the asparagus.

Can you eat asparagus raw?

Asparagus tastes great raw when cut into thin slices or shaved and added to a salad. Raw asparagus spears are also a nice addition to a veggie platter with dip.

What foods do you pair asparagus with?

Asparagus flavor can be enhanced by combining it with parmesan cheese, prosciutto, balsamic vinegar, olive oil. It’s als a great side dish with grilled chicken or seafood

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2 Comments

  1. I love asparagus season. We are getting some of the first fresh of the season here locally tomorrow in a produce box. Love all these delicious looking ideas.