Spring is in the air and seasonal produce is begging to be served up on your table.  Asparagus is one of the stars of the spring line-up, but what is the best way to prepare it? We’ve found some delicious ideas for you to try!

No matter how you choose to cook your asparagus, getting them ready is a key step. We’ve all had stringy spears and that is unpleasant. Some cooks swear by the trim and peel method where you cut off the dry ends and peel the newly cut stalk ends to expose the tender flesh. Others prefer to snap the stalks at their natural breaking point which gives you different lengths, but does not require peeling.

Although many recipes call for boiling asparagus, steaming keeps more of the flavor and nutrients in the vegetable while cooking it effectively for use in recipes like soups or this creamy quiche (click here for the recipe). 

To steam vegetables, place a steaming rack inside a saucepan with a snug fit. Add water to just below the bottom of the rack. Lay the vegetables on the rack and cover and bring to a boil. Steam until vegetables reach the desired degree of tenderness.

I like 8-10 minutes for asparagus. Lift the rack out (they won’t be wet and soggy as they are when boiled), season and serve or cool to use in a recipe.

Roasting is an excellent way to develop flavor when serving asparagus spears on their own. Almost any vegetable can be roasted by simply coating with olive oil, seasoning with salt and pepper and other herbs of your choosing and then placing them evenly spread out on a cookie sheet in the oven. Temperatures can range from 375-475 and cooking times from 8 to 20 minutes depending on how tender or crisp you like your vegetables. Then the spears can be served as they came out of the oven, or you can add a dressing or sauce to complement their flavor as in this recipe with lemon juice (click here).

Click here for food writer Mark Bittman’s take on preparing and serving versatile and delicious Asparagus! (Look for farm-fresh asparagus at the Market this weekend!)