How to Cook, Roast and Grill Fresh Asparagus
ASPARAGUS… When you live in Pittsburgh, you know spring has arrived when you see the asparagus start to show up at the local grocery stores! Fresh asparagus shows up late March or early April!
HOW TO COOK ASPARAGUS – Not everyone knows the proper way to cook asparagus so we will explain how to cook this healthy vegetable a few different ways. From steaming, roasting or grilling, nothing beats fresh asparagus!
DID YOU KNOW? Asparagus is one of the vegetables that loses nutrients as it cooks. Serving asparagus soft and over-cooked will deplete those healthy nutrients! Learn how to cook your asparagus healthy!
Don’t boil your fresh asparagus – keep asparagus out of the water by either steaming or grilling, this will preserve the nutrients that make this vegetable so healthy!
HOW TO BUY ASPARAGUS: Figure about a half pound of asparagus per person when buying asparagus. There are 12 to 18 medium-size stalks in a pound. One pound of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1- to 2-inch lengths, will measure about three cups.
GETTING FRESH ASPARAGUS READY TO COOK:
Hold each end of the asparagus and bend until the asparagus “snaps.” Discard the bottom and what remains is the freshest part of the asparagus.
AVAILABILITY: Peak season for asparagus is March to June.
DID YOU KNOW THAT Asparagus –
- is a low calorie food?
- has no fat?
- is naturally low in sodium?
- is an excellent source of folic acid used in blood cell formation and prevention of liver disease and neural tube defects?
- is a good source of potassium which helps muscle recovery and prevents cramping?
- is a significant source of Vitamin C, Thiamin, B6, and fiber?
- provides as many grams of protein as it does of carbohydrates?
- contains rutin which strengthens capillary walls?
- provides GSH, an antioxidant and cancer fighter?
HOW TO SELECT ASPARAGUS:
Look for firm, round and straight asparagus stalks. They should be medium green with purple highlights. Never but wet, limp or smelly asparagus. A good tip is to squeeze the bundles. If they squeak, you know that they are fresh.
The thinner the asparagus the better.
TO STORE IN FRIDGE:
Once you have the asparagus home, cut off about 1/4 of an inch from the bottom of the stalks. Wash them gently in warm water and then wrap the bottoms in a wet paper towel and place in your refrigerator. Make sure they are placed in the back away from light. Use your asparagus within 3 days to assure freshness.
Cooking Fresh Asparagus
GRILLING ASPARAGUS – this is the preferred summer method of how we love to cook our asparagus. There is no mess and very little clean up.
2 pounds asparagus stalks – cleaned and ends removed.
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt or sea salt & Pepper
Parmigiano or Romano Cheese
Lay the cleaned asparagus on a sheet of aluminum foil. Make sure to use enough foil to wrap the asparagus completely. Drizzle olive oil over asparagus. Squeeze the juice from 1 lemon over asparagus and salt and pepper to taste. Cover completely with the foil and seal the edges. Grill on medium heat for approximately 6-7 minutes. Open packet and sprinkle with cheese.
If you can’t prepare asparagus on the grill, then steaming is the next best option.
In order to steam asparagus, you must have a steamer basket. It is a “must have” for every kitchen.
Fill a large sauce pan (one that has a lid) with about 1 inch of water. Do not let the water come up to the steamer basket. Clean and trim your asparagus and place in the steamer basket. Bring water to a light boil and cover the saucepan with a lid. Let simmer for about 6 minutes. Remove to a serving plate promptly as the asparagus will keep cooking in the pan.
1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tablespoon of shredded Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Wash asparagus using a colander or the bottom of a clean sink. Drain well or shake off excess water and pat dry with a paper towel. Always bend the asparagus until it “snaps” ensuring you are cooking the freshest part. Snap off the ends of each piece of asparagus and place into a bowl. (Don’t use too much olive oil or asparagus will get soggy.)
Toss the asparagus with a small amount of olive oil & fresh lemon juice until lightly coated.
Lightly spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray. Place asparagus spears on the cookie sheet, spreading into one layer if possible. Sprinkle lightly with the Kosher salt.
Bake asparagus for 12=14 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Bake for about 2 more minutes.
LIGHT ASPARAGUS SAUCE
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon flour
1 cup of evaporated fat free canned milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon chives
In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium heat. Salt & pepper butter to taste. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over butter, making sure to keep heat medium-high. Stir to blend for about 30 seconds. Slowly add milk. (Stirring while adding.) Add lemon and chives stir for additional 30 seconds. Serve immediately!
2 pounds fresh asparagus
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Add almonds and cook until golden brown, about 6 or 7 minutes. Remove from heat; add lemon juice and salt. Pour sauce over steamed asparagus.
IN A HURRY?
Lightly sprinkle steamed asparagus with balsamic vinaigrette & blue cheese or gorgonzola cheese crumbles. Enjoy!