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How to Cook Asparagus

In Season: Asparagus

Spring's a season of abundance, and if there's one vegetable you should eat now by the bushel, it's asparagus. At its peak from March through May, asparagus is a flash in the pan compared to other vegetables, so grab it while you can. This young Spring stalk is as lovely steamed or grilled as it is baked into a frittata or blended into a smooth soup, thanks to its distinct flavor which complements virtually any dish. Ready to learn more about buying, storing, and preparing this versatile veggie? Just read on.

Buying Tips

  • Asparagus can be green, purple, and white, with green being the most common.
  • Look for bright, crisp stalks. Avoid limp asparagus.
  • Tips should be tight and compact. Don't buy asparagus if the tips are opening or flowering.
  • Cut ends should not be dry.
  • Look for stalks that are about the diameter of a pencil or Sharpie marker. Any thicker and the stalks could be woody and stringy.

Storing Tips

  • Keep asparagus refrigerated until you're ready to use it.
  • If you're going to cook the asparagus the same day, wrap a damp paper towel around the cut ends before placing in the refrigerator.
  • If you'll need to store the asparagus longer than a day, trim 1/2-inch off the ends and place in a glass with a few inches of water at the bottom. Slip a small plastic storage bag over the tops and place the glass in the fridge.
  • If the tips begin to wilt, you can freshen them up by soaking them in cold water before cooking.

Cooking Tips

  • A serving size of asparagus is about eight stalks.
  • If cooking in batches, choose stalks of similar size for each batch so they will cook evenly.
  • Before cooking, gently snap off the ends to get rid of the tough, woody parts.
  • For more delicate recipes, you can very lightly go over the stalks with a vegetable peeler to remove the tougher outside.
  • Roasting or grilling really brings out the flavor of asparagus, and this seemingly delicate vegetable actually stands up quite well to these techniques.
  • Don't be afraid to experiment with a variety of cuisines and techniques: asparagus is delightful in stir-fry, quesadillas, curries, and atop pizzas!
  • And who says you need to cook it? A shaved raw asparagus salad is a delicious way to celebrate Spring.

See more amazing recipes for asparagus. What are your favorite ways to eat the Spring stalk?

Source: Flickr Users Muffet and Benson Kua

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