How to Cook Asparagus in a Pan, on the Stove, Grill, Barbecue, Bake, Steam

Asparagus a tasty and delightful vegetable that is so easy and quick to prepare in so many ways. It provides a good source of natural fiber, vitamins and nutrients. The asparagus is a part of the lily family.

Asparagus originated more than 2,000 years ago in the eastern Mediterranean, and has long been prized for its unique texture, delicate taste, ease of preparation and reported medicinal and aphrodisiac qualities. It can be grown easily in home gardens and is a perennial that can produce an annual harvest for decades.

Asparagus spears grow up from a subterranean crown planted in sandy soils. The spears can grow a hand-span in length in a 24-hour period. The spears are mostly are green and there is a purple variety which is smaller with a more fruity taste. The white spears are harvested in the absence of light, before the green color develops, and have a more delicate taste.

Asparagus is a delightful healthy vegetable - learn how to cook it using the tips and recipes in this article
Asparagus is a delightful healthy vegetable - learn how to cook it using the tips and recipes in this article. Source: Public Domain

Asparagus is a nutritionally well-balanced vegetables, rich in folic acid, and is a good source of fiber, potassium, thiamin, and vitamins B6, A, K and C.

Nutrition facts for 100 g of fresh asparagus - learn more in this article
Nutrition facts for 100 g of fresh asparagus - learn more in this article. Source: Public Domain


Buying Asparagus - Search for firm heads with buds that have not begun to develop. The stems, can be thick or thin, but should not be woody, firm but not dried out. Look for asparagus that is sold standing in water to keep it from drying out.

Preparation - Remove the woody end of the stalk by simply snapping the ends off. The stalk will snap at the point where the woody part ends. If you prefer you can trim the ends of the stalks with a knife at the same point. If the spears are thick, you can peel them lightly with a vegetable peeler, but this is not usually necessary.

Methods for Cooking Asparagus

You can enjoy asparagus raw in a salad (or lightly steamed or boiled) with minimal preparation. It can also be cooked in a number of ways.

Steamed 

Place water in the lower half of a steamer pan. Add 1 teaspoon butter and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and bring the water to the boil. Trim the stalks and peel the ends if needed. Place the asparagus into the top half of the steamer pan set, or and Asian steamer. Steam for about 4 to 9 minutes according to the thickness. Don't overcook, remove when just tender.

Cooking in the Oven

Boiling in a Pan

Ingredients

Method

Prepare the asparagus by washing, trimming thoroughly and peeling the stalks if needed. Cut into short sections, making slices at a slight diagonal angle.Half-fill a medium sized saucepan with water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for exactly 2 minutes. Sieve the asparagus and while still hot, toss in a bowl with the olive oil, lemon rind, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately while warm.

Microwave

Fresh asparagus can get washed, trimmed, peeled and steamed in the microwave in less than 8 minutes. Steam only until they are just tender but still have texture and are not overcooked. Place the asparagus 2 to 3 deep in a rectangular dish with one tablespoon of water. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid, allowing a vent for steam to escape. Cook on high heat for about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the spears with salt, pepper, a little lime or fresh lemon juice, and the serve immediately.

Grilled Asparagus

Asparagus is fabulous cooked on the grill or barbecue which imparts a slightly smokey or charred flavor. Clean the asparagus, lay it on a very clean grill or a grill pan if the spears are likely to fall through. Brush the asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, toasted sesame oil or some another flavored oil your like. Grill on moderate heat for about 3-5 minutes, or until just tender (test regularly with a fork). Sprinkling with salt, pepper and other spices when almost cooked.

Asparagus Recipes

Stir-Fried Asparagus with Ginger, Cashews or other Nuts

Ingredients

Method

Heat a wok or fry pan and add the oils. When the oil is hot and just starts to smoke, stir fry the ginger for about one minute, add the asparagus and cook for another 3 stirring vigorously, until barely tender and still bright green. To help cook the asparagus without burning, slash in a little water. Add the soy sauce and cashews and cook for one or two minutes and serve immediately. You can brown the nuts before adding to the dish.

Grilled Asparagus with Creamy Lemon Sauce

Ingredients

Method

Coat the asparagus with a sprinkle of olive oil and grill or BBQ for about 6 minutes until tender and slightly browned. Vary the cooking time depending on the heat of the grill and the thickness of the asparagus. Take a small frying pan and simmer the wine over moderate heat until it reduces by about a half. Add the cream and simmer gently until the sauce thickens. Then add the butter, lemon juice and chives or parsley (optional). Stir until the sauce is smooth. Simmer for longer to get a thicker sauce. If its too thick add some water and whisk vigorously. Serve the asparagus with the lovely lemon sauce.


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Snapping to remove the woody stem - discover how to cook asparagus here
Snapping to remove the woody stem - discover how to cook asparagus here. Source: Public Domain
Steamed and chilled asparagus is a delightful ingredients for salads and stir fries
Steamed and chilled asparagus is a delightful ingredients for salads and stir fries. Source: Public Domain
Asparagus with rices noodles, strawberries and mushrooms - see more recipes here
Asparagus with rices noodles, strawberries and mushrooms - see more recipes here. Source: Public Domain
Asparagus pairs well with prawns and other seafood - the texture compliments the softness of seafood and it adds fiber and nutrients
Asparagus pairs well with prawns and other seafood - the texture compliments the softness of seafood and it adds fiber and nutrients. Source: Public Domain
Asparagus pairs well with eggs and is delightful in flans and quiches
Asparagus pairs well with eggs and is delightful in flans and quiches. Source: Public Domain
Fish with wild garlic miso and barbecued asparagus - discover more great recipes here
Fish with wild garlic miso and barbecued asparagus - discover more great recipes here. Source: Public Domain
Char-grilled asparagus and haloumi with mint and lemon - learn how to cook asparagus to perfection in this article
Char-grilled asparagus and haloumi with mint and lemon - learn how to cook asparagus to perfection in this article. Source: Public Domain
Steamed White asparagus with a lovely white sauce and herbs
Steamed White asparagus with a lovely white sauce and herbs. Source: Public Domain