Asparagus in the Kitchen: Recipes and Tips

Besides being a healthy vegetable, asparagus is great tasting, and good in many recipes. Because of its unusual shape and texture, as well as its rarity, it can create an up-scale lift to any menu. Many people simply enjoy asparagus steamed or microwaved, with a little butter and a dash of salt and pepper. But there are far more elegant ways to prepare asparagus.

Asparagus and Salmon

To pick out asparagus at the supermarket look for straight spears. Bent spears can be a sign of insect damage. They should be firm, but not woody, of uniform size, and have closed tips. If the tips are opening, it is a sign that they were harvested a bit too late. Asparagus dries out quickly, so it should be used within about three days of purchase. Spears may be kept standing upright in a dish of cold water, or the base of the spears can be wrapped in a wet paper towel.

Asparagus also comes frozen and canned. Unfortunately, in these states it does not measure up to fresh asparagus. However, frozen asparagus can be profitably used in casserole recipes. Canned asparagus is in a class by itself. Because in the canning process it must be cooked at extremely high temperatures, canned asparagus is very prone to falling apart. It borders on mushy, and loses much of its color. Even so, it can make an interesting side dish at dinner or for other occasions. People either love or hate canned asparagus.

Preparation for fresh asparagus is fairly simple. Rinse and cut off the bottom of the spears (usually about an inch), removing any areas that have become woody. The remaining spear can then be used as is, cut in moderate segments, or finely chopped. Use in recipes immediately upon cutting. If stored at this point, the spears will rapidly deteriorate in quality.

To help the reader make maximum use of asparagus, we have developed a few recipes:

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