One of the first green veggies to pop up in the spring is asparagus. Granted, we can buy it at the super market year round, but it really does taste sweetest in spring, when it’s in season.
WHERE TO FIND ASPARAGUS
Most supermarkets will carry asparagus this time of year, and for some reason, I feel like I always see it in the front of the produce section, positioned upright, as though it’s standing up to get your attention. And perhaps it is.
The freshest (and often least expensive) asparagus can be of course purchased in season at the farmers’ market. But if your market is anything like mine, and you happen to buy asparagus regularly when it surfaces, you likely know that it sells out quickly. Everyone’s looking for alternatives to root veggies by the time asparagus shows up.
Asparagus will also grow prolifically in your garden once established, which creates a need for recipes—and a need to share the harvest.
HOW TO PICK THE BEST ASPARAGUS
I like asparagus that isn’t too thick and isn’t too thin—spears that will stand up to a little bit of heat, but also won’t be too tough or woody, which sometimes happens with thicker stalks. It’s a bit of a Goldilocks situation; for most recipes, you want asparagus whose diameter is just right, somewhere between thick and thin.
This said, those pencil-thin spears of asparagus do look really elegant when draped over some salmon or plated alongside steak, but that’s your call!
Either way, pick bunches of asparagus that feel firm and crisp, and have tightly-closed tips. Avoid soft or withered spears whose tips feel loose or have started to open.
HOW TO STORE ASPARAGUS
Store your bundle of asparagus in the crisper drawer until you’re ready to cook it. Fresh asparagus will generally keep for several days before starting to wilt.
If you need to keep it for longer (or to freshen up a bunch that’s gone soft), trim off the ends and stand the spears upright in a jar of water in the fridge to perk them back up again.
HOW TO PREPARE ASPARAGUS FOR COOKING
The bottom ends of the spears can be quite woody, and the rule of thumb for removing them is to take a stalk and gently snap it near the end. Wherever it breaks is will be close to where the woody part ends, and you can just discard this portion.
However, I sometimes get impatient and simply line up my asparagus on the cutting board and chop off the last inch or so. This is assuming your asparagus is about the same diameter in thickness; if your spears are a mixed bunch, you may find some are stiffer than others.
WHAT TO MAKE WITH ASPARAGUS
For a quick side dish, you can cook your spears quickly on the stove top, roast them in the oven, or even grill them! But if you’re looking for a recipe that really makes asparagus the star, try one of the recipe below.