Friday, January 13, 2012

3 Ways to Cook Asparagus

Asparagus is naturally fat-free and contains protein, iron and vitamins A and C. That's just one of the reasons you should add this vegetable to your dinner plate. Another reason is its ability to cook quickly. While it is easily roasted or grilled, those cooking methods require using some amount of fat. But asparagus is versatile when it comes to cooking methods. There are other fat-free ways you can cook the vegetable so it turns out fork tender and flavorful.

Selecting and Preparing

Select asparagus spears that are bright green and firm. They should have wet bottoms and closed tips. Cook the asparagus soon after buying or harvesting it for the best flavor. When refrigerating fresh asparagus, wrap the vegetable's bottoms in a paper towel and place whole asparagus pieces into a plastic bag. Rinse the asparagus under running cool water to remove any dirt or debris. Cut or snap off the tough white bottoms on the asparagus. Cut whole asparagus into 1- or 2-inch sections.


Fill a medium saucepan about halfway full with water. Place the pan on a stove top burner set to medium to high heat. Bring the water to a boil. Submerge the asparagus pieces into the boiling water. Boil the asparagus for about 2 minutes just until the pieces soften, but still have some crunch. Drain the water from the asparagus. Salt and pepper the asparagus and add other seasonings and ingredients such as lemon juice, olive oil and Parmesan cheese.


Keep the asparagus whole if using an asparagus steamer. This basket holds the asparagus spears upright while you submerge the basket into a pot of water. The hard stems reach into the boiling water to soften them while the soft tops just gently steam. For cut pieces of asparagus, a steamer basket or steamer insert is used to hold the pieces over the boiling water to steam them.


Place the asparagus pieces into a microwavable dish. Pour 1/4 cup of water into the dish. Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap, but poke a small hole in it or leave a small section open to vent the steam. Microwave the dish on high for 3 to 6 minutes. Stir the asparagus about halfway through cooking to cook it evenly. Poke the asparagus with a fork after 3 minutes to check if they are done; they should remain crisp but become soft enough that you can press a fork into the pieces.

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