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by Emma Christensen
Here are the best ways to pick, clean, and cook Asparagus.
Buying the Best Asparagus
Look for asparagus that is plump and straight. Check out the ends and put back any bunches with dry, split or excessively woody stems, as this is a sign of older asparagus. Thick or thin asparagus is really a matter of personal taste: thin spears are more tender and sweet, while fatter stems have a meatier texture and stronger asparagus flavor.
Store asparagus in the refrigerator in a loose plastic grocery bag. Use it within a few days of buying.
How to Clean Asparagus
Rinse the spears under cool water to remove any grit. Snap off the bottom inch or so using your fingers; the stems will naturally break where the tough woody part ends and the tender stem begins. Dry the spears by rolling them between two kitchen towels. You can leave the spears whole or cut them into smaller bite-sized pieces for a stir-fry or other preparation.
Really thick asparagus can sometimes develop a tough outer skin. It's not strictly necessary, but you can peel this coating away with a vegetable peeler.
How to Cook Asparagus
My personal favorite way to prepare asparagus is to coat it with a little olive oil, sprinkle it with salt, and roast it in the oven or under the broiler until the outside picks up some browned crispy bits. I could -- and have -- eaten an entire bunch at once when cooked this way!
You can also steam asparagus spears or poach them in salted boiling water. When you get tired of eating asparagus on its own, you can throw bite-sized pieces in a stir-fry, a frittata or a pasta sauce.
However you choose to prepare it, asparagus is done when it's tender and still has a slight bite to it. Undercooked asparagus will be difficult to chew, and overcooked asparagus will taste mushy. You can pierce the spears with a fork or skewer to gauge how cooked they are, but the best way to test them is to just bite into one!
Buying, Cleaning & Preparing Asparagus
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