It’s asparagus season! Here in Chicago, our farmers markets are finally(!) open and every stand at every market seems to be overflowing with the green (and sometimes purple) spring vegetable. If you love asparagus, you’ll love this handy guide with my best tips for cooking it. If you don’t love it… well, I encourage you to give it a try right now while it’s in peak season and perhaps with a new-to-you preparation. Who knows, if you’ve always had it steamed, maybe you’ll love it grilled, roasted, or even raw?
Oven roasted asparagus is one of the key ingredients in my mom’s spring breakfast casserole, but it’s also delicious on its own as a spring side. It couldn’t be easier to make! These 4 steps will yield perfect baked asparagus:
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- Cut the tough woody ends off the bottom of the spears – these guys are not easy to eat, and even roasting won’t make them tender enough to chew.
- Toss the whole spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them on a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving an inch or so of space between each one. The space ensures that they’ll crisp up – and not steam – in the oven.
- Bake for 12 minutes, until the spears are lightly crisp and tender. Enjoy them whole with a squeeze of lemon, or chop them and toss them into eggs, pastas, salads, and more!
If you’ve never grilled asparagus before, you’re going to love it! The spears come out tender and lightly charred, and the process is really simple:
- Start by trimming any woody ends off the spears.
- Then, lightly toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
- Grill for 6 to 8 minutes on a grill preheated to medium, flipping halfway through.
- Your asparagus is ready when it’s tender and lightly charred.
Use grilled asparagus in this spring farro salad, or serve it on its own as a simple side dish. I love to grill lemon halves along with the veggies (pictured at the bottom of this post). I’ll serve grilled asparagus with generous squeezes of juice from the charred lemons!
I love adding chopped blanched asparagus to spring salads or folding it into scrambled eggs. To make it, follow these easy steps:
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and set a bowl of ice water nearby.
- Chop your spears into 1-inch chunks, discarding any tough, woody ends.
- Drop the chopped veggies into the boiling water, and blanch them for about 1 minute, until tender but still bright green.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the blanched veggies from the pot to the ice water, and let it chill for 1 minute.
- Drain, pat dry, and enjoy!
But wait, there are more ways to cook asparagus!
Blanching, roasting, and grilling are my three go-tos, but you can also sauté asparagus for a frittata or pasta or poach whole spears for a quick dinner side dish. I even like it simmered into soup. Alternatively, don’t cook it at all! Use a vegetable peeler to shave thick spears into ribbons to make a salad with olive oil and lemon, or use the ribbons on pizza or toast.
- 1 bunch asparagus, woody ends trimmed
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Lemon wedges, for squeezing
- Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Roasted: Preheat the oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Toss the spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and spread them onto the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the spears are lightly crisp and tender. Squeeze with lemon and serve.
- Grilled: Toss the spears with olive oil, salt, and pepper and grill 6 to 8 minutes per side. Squeeze with lemon and serve. Tip: grill lemon halves and use the charred lemons for squeezing.
- Blanched: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and set a bowl of ice water nearby. Chop the spears into 1-inch pieces and drop them into the boiling water for about 1 minute, or until tender but still bright green. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the blanched asparagus to the ice water and chill for 1 minute. Drain, pat dry, and toss into salads, pastas, or squeeze with lemon and enjoy!