|Photo: Ryan Freisling for Wikipedia|
All of this week's recipes will feature what I consider the quintessential spring vegetable: asparagus. Although asparagus can be very simple to prepare, it's good to know a few things.
When choosing asparagus, I try to pick stalks that are on the smaller side. Thicker asparagus is older and thus more likely to have started to take on a woody texture (once asparagus flowers, it becomes very woody).
Like any vegetable, it should always be thoroughly washed, and I find that asparagus is particularly prone to collecting sand.
To trim asparagus for cooking, a simple, an efficient method is to bend the asparagus stalk, which will cause it to snap at a natural breaking point, dividing it into the woodier, thicker part that isn't very tasty and the tender stalk and tip which is. Although I usually discard the thicker part, it can be used to flavor stock (as my pasta dish later in the week will show). Alternatively, you can use a peeler to remove the tough outer layer of the thicker part of the stalk, but this will increase your prep time significantly.
My favorite simple preparation for asparagus is to broil it. I do this frequently. It makes a simple, satisfying side dish that goes well with fish and meats. It can also be chopped and added to salads when cooled.
Simple Broiled Asparagus
1 bunch of fresh asparagus stalks, trimmed
Olive oil spray
Fresh-ground black pepper
1. Preheat the broiler with the oven rack adjusted to about 4-5 inches from heat element.
2. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet. Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with seasoned salt.
3. Broil asparagus for 7-8 minutes, turning stalks halfway through (I use kitchen tongs).
4. Sprinkle fresh-ground black pepper on top and serve.