Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sauteed Asparagus: A Story and a Tip

Asparagus, that vegetable sentinel of spring, is on. This means that it should start showing up in sales across the country. It means I went out to the garden today to find this:

And it means that if you'd like to enjoy it, you ought to learn how to cook it. Because even on sale, it isn't the cheapest thing in the universe. And even in your garden, it's a years long commitment, not a lettuce-y spring fling.

I personally had never ever had asparagus until my marriage. Kip married a woman who'd never once eaten asparagus, fresh artichokes, or avocados in non-guacamole form. This was fine with him because he'd grown up with a family who loved those things when he hated them. And then, in a brutal twist of marital fate, Kip's sister introduced me to each and every one of those foods and I came to love them all, almost to the point of obsession (as in I have an asparagus patch out back). Poor Kip. Let's shed a tear for the man. Okay, we're done. Now on to asparagal tips.

Asparagal Tip:

The bottom bit of the asparagus tends to taste woody and ought to be removed. You can guess where the woodiness begins and just chop it off. But the best way it to find the lowest spot where the asparagus easily breaks off and break it. If your asparagus isn't super fresh (as mine apparently wasn't), you'll end up taking off a good bit of the bottom.

I know that can be stressful, especially if you're cheap, but if you don't remove it, you'll end up chewing on this woody, fibrous part for approximately 27 minutes and that's no fun.

Once the woody part is gone, I like to break it into bite-sized pieces before I cook it (though you don't have to).

There are lots of great ways to eat asparagus. If you don't have a lot of experience with it, here are a few ideas:
-With pasta. It's especially good with alfredo or any cream, oil, or egg coated pasta dish.
-On pizza (oh, it's so good)
-In salad--blanch or steam it so it's still crispy and then chop it in.
-With rice
-In casserole
-In pretty much any recipe in which you'd use broccoli

But do you know how I like them best? The same way I first had them when Shelle taught me how to cook them. Sauteed in butter with a little salt and pepper.

1. Melt a pat of butter in a skillet.
2. Throw in your asparagus (after you've removed that woody part).
3. Let it cook so that it's bright green and still crisp, but has a bit of color (brown) on the edges or even on one side.
4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
5. Become a zealot. Annoy your husband.

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