How to cook fresh asparagus, let me count the ways. Asparagus is a truly versatile vegetable because it can be steamed, microwaved, roasted, blanched, grilled, broiled, sautéed and even eaten raw. Though the list seems impressive there are clear winners for the various methods for cooking fresh asparagus that help to retain its subtle flavours. This post will go through all of the different methods to cook asparagus you show you the best way to cook asparagus. The Best way to cook asparagus is using oil instead of water. For more details on why cooking asparagus using oil is the best way
6 Basic Ways How to Cook Fresh Asparagus
Each of these methods depending on having fresh asparagus with a fairly even diameter to ensure that they are cooked roughly at the same time and preventing them turning mushy. The various methods can be separated into two groups, water based cooking methods and oil based cooking methods. The first three methods will be oil based and the next three will be water based.
Cooking asparagus in oven is a very convenient method that means you can easily be doing other things without tending to it all the time. Roasting gives you a large degree of control over how cooked you like it from barely cooked to tender to well done, as well as giving a wonderful roasted flavour to the asparagus.
- In a large bowl drizzle a little olive oil over the prepared asparagus and toss to ensure even coating.
- Layout the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer to ensure even roasting
- Sprinkle generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Roast at 400F (200C) for between 12 and 15 minutes depending on how tender you wish your asparagus to be.
Grilling / Barbecuing asparagus is very fast, tasty and easy method of cooking. It might help to invest in a vegetable grilling basket to make it easier to turn the asparagus instead of doing it one at a time with tongs.
- Drizzle a little oil over the asparagus and coat evenly
- Season with salt and pepper
- Place the asparagus spears directly over medium heat coals or burners and close the lid.
- Cook for 3 to 4 minutes and then turn the asparagus.
- Again close the lid and cook for a further 3 to 4 minutes for crisp and tender asparagus.
Sautéing or Pan Roasting Asparagus
In my opinion this is the best way to cook fresh asparagus and the method I use the most often. Sautéing the asparagus on the stove is relatively quick and simple, but the best benefit is that it maintains all of the lovely asparagus flavour.
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over a medium heat
- Once the oil is hot add the asparagus and season with salt and pepper
- Move the asparagus frequently in the pan to prevent burning and cook for 3 to 4 minutes until cooked.
Out of all the ways to cook asparagus, boiling is the worst way if you want to preserve the subtle flavour as the flavour compounds are water soluble and are lost when you pour away the water. Though this method is commonly used in restaurants I recommend not boiling your asparagus. However here’s the instruction if you really want to do it.
Note: Do not use an aluminium pot as this can taint the flavour of asparagus
- Boil water with a little salt in a large pan.
- Submerge the asparagus in the water,
- Cover and leave to cook for 4 to 7 minutes depending on the diameter of the asparagus.
Though this method of cooking asparagus isn’t nearly as bad as boiling, I still think that it is an inferior method of cooking that does not do the flavour of the asparagus any justice.
- Put 1 inch (2.5cm) of water into the bottom of your steamer pot and bring to a boil
- Place the asparagus into the steamer basket, cover and cook for 4 to 6 minutes until tender
- Remove the asparagus from the steamer and serve
How to cook asparagus in the microwave
Microwaving asparagus is quick and very convenient, and though not as bad as boiling, it isn’t as good as cooking with oil.
- Season the asparagus with salt and black pepper
- Wrap the asparagus spears in damp paper kitchen towels and place onto a plate.
- Put the plate into the microwave and cook on high for 2 to 3 minutes
Alternatively you could use the microwave to get a better result than steaming in paper towels, by placing the asparagus in a dish and a few knobs of butter and then cooking it on high for 2 to 3 minutes.