Your Ultimate Guide: Asparagus

Delicious, crunchy, and totally versatile, asparagus is (hands-down!) my favorite spring vegetable. I’m not alone either – lots of our friends on Facebook are jazzed to see it making a comeback as the weather warms.

In celebration of this beloved stalk, here’s the breakdown of everything you need to know about enjoying asparagus. And if you’ve never savored the flavor before, perhaps we can persuade you to give it a try!

How to Pick It

Choose asparagus that is springy and firm, not drooping. Keep an eye out for tips that are tightly closed and not seeding or flowering. Also, asparagus continues to grow after it’s cut, so if the tips are a bit bent, don’t worry.

Fun fact: Asparagus should sound “squeaky” if you squeeze the bunch.

Thicker asparagus is more mature and has a meatier texture than thinner stalks – what size you choose is up to your personal preference.

Color is also important based on your dish. White asparagus wasn’t exposed to light as it grew, and people often report a smoother, richer taste. Purple asparagus tastes similarly to green, and it actually turns green if it’s overcooked (so only choose purple asparagus when you’ll be serving it raw).

How to Prepare It

– Be sure to wash it thoroughly with cold water to remove sand or grit that could be trapped in the tips.

– Remove the woody, lower parts of stems before you cook them. To do this, simply apply pressure to the ends, and the woody portions will naturally snap off (try it, it’s fun!).

– If you have thicker stems, sometimes the outer covering of the asparagus is tough. You can always use a vegetable peeler to thin this layer for faster cooking and easier chewing.

How to Eat It

SimplyAsparagus Spears

Asparagus with a butter lemon sauce and shallots is absolutely delightful. If you’re not familiar with asparagus, try this easy preparation first.

With a Grain:Farro with Asparagus

Crunchy asparagus and meaty farro are brilliant paired with fresh herbs and lemon juice. You’ll love this as a springtime side!

In a Sandwich:Egg-Battered Asparagus, Ham and Cheese Sandwiches

This tasty twist on a classic Monte Cristo is amazing for brunch or lunch. Try it with honey mustard and a light salad.

As a Sauce:Spinach Pasta with Asparagus Pesto

Instead of basil, use asparagus as your pesto base in this delicious pasta. You’ll love how smooth and creamy the pesto is alongside the tasty bite of spinach linguine.

How to Store It

Try one of these methods, based on the space you have in your fridge:

1. Wrap the ends of the asparagus in a damp paper towel, and then place the bunch in a plastic bag to be kept in your refrigerator.

2. Keep it fresh like a bunch of flowers by placing it in an inch or two of fresh water in a jar or vase. Then, place a plastic bag over the tops and store in the refrigerator.

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Rachael Ray