Asparagus: Our Ingredient of the Week

Kim Conte
Food & Party

Flickr: Photo by Muffet
Each week in Food and Party, we'll be featuring an "Ingredient of the Week"—paying homage to some of our favorite ingredients all week long with buying and storage tips, recipes, and other useful information.

This week's special ingredient is: Asparagus.

Why I am featuring asparagus this week? Because it is the quintessential food of spring and Easter, of course! Spotting bunches of fresh asparagus in the produce section of the grocery store is definitely one of the first signs of spring. There's nothing I hate more than a tough and stringy stalk, so I look for the thinnest spears -- those are usually the most tender.

And now on to a contentious question that continues to vex asparagus-lovers the world over: How do you trim an asparagus?

Most of the serious cooks I know trim the tough, woody ends off asparagus this way: By snapping off the ends one by one, assuming each stalk will break off at exactly the right place. My problem with this? It wastes so much good asparagus!

I prefer to use a knife to cut 1/2-inch off each stem, trimming several at a time. Go ahead: Accuse me of asparagus blasphemy! But I've got Julia Child on my side.

The one thing cooks won't disagree on? Asparagus is so simple to cook whether you are roasting, steaming, blanching, or pan-frying. My favorite way to cook them is on the grill: Just marinate trimmed spears in balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper for an hour, then arrange them perpendicularly on a hot grill turning every few minutes until crisp-tender.

Stay tuned all this week for more tasty asparagus recipes!

What's your favorite way to cook asparagus?

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