Does cooking asparagus look tricky to you? Just try it, and you won’t regret it! It might seem difficult, but it isn’t! It’s a quick and easy dish if you make it the simple way. Perhaps the most challenging way is to use it in a quiche!
“Asparagus should be served as a separate course, that’s the way French people do. Because it’s such a beautiful vegetable, it’s such a shame to let it be mixed up with anything else. If you get beautiful asparagus, I think it should be served as a separate course. You can either use it as a fresh course for a dinner party or instead of a salad course. (…) A plate of asparagus is a marvelous way to begin a meal. It’s just irresistible,” Julia Child said in the 1966 “The French Chef” show while adding a beautiful dollop of sauce over a large serving of cooked asparagus.
Asparagus is a spring vegetable with a fine texture and a strong yet delicate taste. It has a unique flavor. Some people describe it as something between broccoli and celery flavor-wise, but some think it’s more like green beans. If you haven’t tried it yet, do it, and you won’t regret it! Not for nothing emperor Augustus, founder of the Roman Principate, created the 'Asparagus Fleet' for hauling the vegetable and coined the expression 'faster than cooking asparagus' for quick action.
Buy smart, cook easy
If you can, buy asparagus in spring from a local source. If you crave some during the winter, remember that asparagus from Peru is available year-round, even if it’s not as good as the local one.
You can find green, white, and purple asparagus at the market. The most common asparagus is the green one, which is available year-round in American supermarkets. The white one is more common in Europe.
Asparagus can be prepared and served in many ways around the world, usually as an appetizer or side dish. This veggie is amazingly versatile: it can be steamed, simmered, roasted, battered, grilled, sautéed, blanched, or wok-fried. If you thinly slice it, will have a lovely flavor even raw, used in a salad.
Asparagus cooks quickly – as emperor Augustus noticed –, so make sure to have all your ingredients ready for the stove. It’s best served warm or at room temperature.
Before you begin cooking asparagus, you must prepare it. Take a minute to break or cut off the tough bottom ends of each spear. Asparagus has a natural bending point near the bottom of the stalk, where you can snap it. If needed, peel its tough skin away too. Julia Child recommended peeling the spears when cooking them the French way because the skin on larger asparagus doesn’t soften when you cook it.
5 ideas for cooking asparagus
When cooking asparagus, the first option that comes to mind is roasting it. This way, its flavor becomes even richer. Not to mention how easy to cook it is! Preheat the oven to 430 degrees F/220 degrees C, line a tray with baking paper, lay the asparagus spears onto the tray, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. It’s so basic and simple and enjoyable! If you want, you can add a few fresh garlic cloves and some grated lemon zest. It only takes 10 minutes to roast.
Eat it the way Julia Child advises, as a separate course with a sauce, or stir it into a risotto, or a creamy pasta dish.
2. Fry to Perfection
Asparagus is a healthy veggie and we admit frying it is not the healthiest option. But sometimes it works, when you want to spoil yourself with a richer taste. Once in a while, deep-fry your asparagus spears and your taste buds will thank you. Prep your asparagus, then make a batter by mixing some water, cornmeal, flour, cornstarch, egg, baking powder, and salt until well combined.
Heat a large skillet on the stove, coat in batter 3 or 4 spears at a time, then fry them in hot vegetable oil for 3 to 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of spears, until they're golden. Place on paper towels to drain and continue until you finish your remaining spears. Meanwhile, make a dip by combining mustard, chopped dill, and honey. They complement each other so well!
3. In quiches
You know what quiche is: a crust and the filling you choose. First, bake your crust. Meanwhile, prepare the filling. We will give you one recipe, but you can find many more of them on the Internet, so feel free to explore!
So, heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a frying pan over low heat, add and cook some chopped onion until it's soft, then stir in a few fennel seeds. Then, take it off the heat and leave it to cool in the pan.
In a separate pan, simmer one bunch of asparagus in water (covered with 2-3 cm of water) for 5 mins, then rinse it in cold water to cool down quickly, and set aside. In the same pan, add some milk and a salmon fillet, bring them to a simmer and cook for 4 minutes, turning it once. When the salmon is cooked, remove it from the milk.
Assemble your quiche. Fill your quiche crust starting with an even layer of onion and fennel seeds, add the asparagus and, when the salmon is cool enough to handle, break chunks of it over the asparagus.
Mix the milk with double cream and one or two eggs, salt and pepper, and pour this mixture over the filling, then grate some cheese on top. Bake the dish for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the filling is set and the cheese on top turns golden.
Asparagus is often used in Asian cooking, no wonder that Asian people master the stir-frying technique that well. Try this method when cooking asparagus, because it only takes 1 or 2 minutes to finish! We suggest you use a wok because it’s larger and you won’t have problems when stirring the asparagus spears.
It’s good enough with vegetable oil, salt, and pepper, but if you’re looking for an Asian touch, add soy sauce and sesame seeds. Stir-fried asparagus is good as is or in salads. Just add it near the end of cooking the rest of your dish.
5. Raw asparagus as a topping
Asparagus tastes good even raw. You can shave some long strips off a spear and use it to top a slice of bread with smoked salmon and ricotta cheese. Raw asparagus is also great with feta cheese and radish. You can even add it to salads.