Whether it’s in season or it’s out of season, there are good ways and not so good easy to cook asparagus. There are a lot of things to consider, such as knowing when the asparagus you are going to buy is fresh, ripe, woody or perfect. We will cover it all in this article. There are many great recipes but these 3 are our favourite quick and easy methods.
The different types of Asparagus
There are 5 differnt speciaes of aspargus. One of those species is edible and that will be the topic of this post. within the edible species of asparagus, there are many varieties. The common varieties of asparagus that we see in our farmer’s markets and grocery stores are:
Common Green asparagus
The jersey king variety is the most common green asparagus variety. that is what is in many grocery stores and markets. It can be thin stalks or thicker stalks and usually around they are usually around 8 inches tall. there are other green varieties, such as Jersey Giant, Jersey Knight and Mary Washington, which are all commi=on varieties in North America. They are all very similar, with the main difference being the height of the spear or stalk.
Green asparagus can be steamed, roasted, grilled, sautéed or even served raw in salads.
White asparagus is most common in Europe and is actually preferred there over the green variety. The surprising thing about the white variety is that the reason that it is white is not that it is a different variety, but rather the white appearance is a result of the growing conditions. The asparagus is deprived of light causing no chlorophyll production resulting in the white colour.
White asparagus can be cooked in the same ways as green asparagus but it tends to be a bit woodier, so it is best if it is peeled first. White asparagus should be cooked before eating as it is much more fibrous.
White asparagus is more pricey than the common varieties of green asparagus. White asparagus is often served with dipping sauce. Unlike the common green varieties, it is not crunchy and crisp.
White asparagus should be peeled to remove the woody outer layer and then it can be cooked using the same methods of cooking as the green varieties.
The purple variety is similar in size to the common green varieties. Purple asparagus is sweeter than the other varieties and can be eaten raw. Being able to eat it raw is beneficial as you can easily use it to add colour to cold dishes, such as salads and appetizers. When purple asparagus is cooked it loses its purple colour and turns green. Since it is more expensive, it is best to use it raw, so you can enjoy the benefit of the colour.
Purple asparagus can be cooked in the same ways as the common green varieties, just remember it will be green after cooking.
Buying Asparagus – What to look for
There are a few simple tips to help you get the best asparagus when shopping. You will want to look for the following attributes in order to make the best choice:
- The stalks should feel firm to the touch.
- stems should be able to snap if bent
- The stems should be able to stand up and not be limp or spongy feeling.
- The base of the stalks should not be splitting or dried out. (stores often stand them in water to keep them moist)
- The tips should be dark green in colour and fading as you look towards the base of the stalk.
- Some of the tips may have a purple tinge to them and that is also a good sign.
- If you’re buying white or purple varieties, look for vibrant colours. The tips are the first indicator of old or asparagus that is going stale.
- Look for tight tips that are not black or going mushy. the tips should feel firm when touched.
- if the asparagus is standing in water, check to make sure the water appears fresh and isn’t slimy.
Storing the asparagus at home
Asparagus should be chilled at home in the refrigerator. Wrap the base of the stalks in wet water-soaked paper towels, to keep the stems from drying out or purchase an asparagus and herb keeper, like the one below. Asparagus can be kept in the refrigerator for about 3 to 4 days.
Asparagus is pretty versatile and can be cooked in many ways. It can be steamed, fried, baked and grilled or eaten raw. It is a personal preference.
An asparagus/vegetable steamer pot with a removable basket works amazing for steaming many vegetables, including whole carrots and corn on the cob. When using this method asparagus only needs steaming for a few minutes as it cooks relatively fast. I steam mine for 5-7 minutes to maintain its crispness.
Wire racks placed onto a sheet pan work very well. Line the pan with foil or parchment to catch the drips or any oils. If not using wire racks, use parchment or aluminum foil and brush the asparagus with olive oil or your preferred oil before baking.
A large-size skillet, that allows for the asparagus not to be layered works best. You can also simmer the asparagus in your frying pan by adding a small amount of water (just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, not covering the asparagus)
Whenever I grill asparagus, I use a grilling sheet, such as a Cookina. These reuseable non-stick grilling sheets are amazing. I used them for vegetables and mushrooms. They are definitely an asset when grilling.
Recipe for Sautéed Asparagus and Almonds
Sautéed Asparagus and Almonds
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- 2 tbsp sliced almonds
- 1 clove garlic-minced
- Wash asparagus and remove bottom 1/4 of stalks.
- In a frying pan, over medium-high heat add oil.
- Add the garlic and half of the sliced almonds.
- Saute for about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Add the asparagus, in a single layer (do not pile up or overlap)
- Continue to sautee for about 5 minutes, turning as they cook.
- Add the remaining almonds and mix them in with the asparagus.
- Remove from heat.
- Serve immediately.
Follow us on Pinterest for more great recipes and everyday inspiration. https://www.pinterest.ca/BakerStreetLiving/_created/
Recipe for Bacon Wrapped Asparagus Spears
Bacon Wrapped Asparagus
- 1 bunch asparagus (about 1 pound)
- 1 package thinly sliced bacon (375 grams or about 3/4 lb or 454 grams))
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pinch salt
- Wash the asparagus and trim off the bottom 1/4 of the stalks.
- Line a sheet pan with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
- Place wire baking rack onto the sheet pan.
- Take 2 or 3 stalks and hold them together as you wrap one slice of bacon around them. Start at the bottom and wrap to the top of the asparagus spears.
- Place onto wire baking rack.
- Repeat until all the asparagus is wrapped.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (180°C)
- Bake on center rack of oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the bacon appears crispy.
- Remove and serve immediately.
Simply Simmered Asparagus
Simply Simmered Asparagus
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus fresh asparagus
- pinch salt
- 1 tsp olive oil
- In a large shallow frying pan add enough water to cover the bottom ( About 1/4 to 1/2 inch)
- wash and trim the bottom 1/4 to 1/3 of the asparagus stalks
- Bring water to a simmer.
- Add asparagus, laying flat in the pan, not overlapping or piling up
- Cover and simmer for about 5-6 minutes.
- Remove from pan.
- Drizzle with olive oil or melted butter and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
- Serve immediately.
- For added flavour, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Canning or Freezing asparagus.
I have tried canning asparagus once and it didn’t go well. I found the finished product to be too soft for my liking.
For freezing, you can blanch the stalks and then lay them on a sheet pan to freeze them without them touching. Once frozen place them in a sealed airtight freezer bag. I have font this ponce and prefer the fresh stalks over the frozen. they are just not the same as fresh as you cant maintain the crisp texture.
Check out another recipe for Healthy Chicken Strips – They go perfectly with these asparagus recipes. https://bakerstreetliving.com/easy-to-make-healthy-chicken-fingers-from-scratch/
Thanks for visiting Baker street living.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. We receive a small commission when purchases are made through our links. Thank You for your support.