Asparagus is a wonderful vegetable that is crazy high is many different vitamins and nutrients as well as a great source of fiber. However, asparagus gets a bad rep due to the very green and fibrous taste it holds as well as some other negative connotations that allow with eating the vegetable. For instance, it is a well-known fact that asparagus makes your urine stink pretty bad. While this may be true and there’s no way around it, there are some great methods and techniques used to cook asparagus that will make it worth your while in the long run.

There is a multitude of ways to cook asparagus, but probably the most common would be steaming or blanching the vegetable. The reason behind this method could be for the ease of preparing the product or just because people do not know how to cook asparagus. With that being said, steaming or blanching is a popular choice and should not be ruled out. It is the healthiest way to cook asparagus aside from eating it plain and raw. If you do choose to cook it this way, make sure to keep a close eye on the spears when boiling or steaming them because it is easy to overcook and you may run the risk of ending up with mushy asparagus. Nobody wants this unless you plan on making baby food. Blanch the asparagus in boiling water for no more than 3-5 minutes depending on the thickness of the stalk. Once it is done cooking, either eat it immediately or if you plan on using later or adding to a stir-fry, then you need to submerge the asparagus in a bowl filled with ice cold water to stop the cooking process and cool down the spears. Once cooled you can cut up the asparagus and use later without running the risk of overcooking the asparagus.

Even if you are planning on using the vegetable in another dish like a stir-fry, pasta or salad, it is wise to first blanch the asparagus then cool it down in a water bath. If you want to eat the asparagus steamed or blanched then just season with a touch of salt and pepper and maybe with the squeeze of a lemon wedge. But asparagus does not just have to be eaten this way. There are many other ways to cook asparagus that are not only delicious but super easy to create!

Here are 4 ways how to cook asparagus, 2 of which need to be blanched previously before cooking again while the other 2 may be prepared raw.

4 Ways How to Cook Asparagus

1. Baked

To cook your asparagus correctly, you will first need to blanch it for 3 minutes in boiling water then cool it down immediately in ice cold water to stop the cooking process.

A great way to bake the asparagus would be to use a flavorful and acidic vinaigrette. To make the vinaigrette, use a blender or food processor. Blend 1 cup of fresh parsley, 4 garlic cloves, 2 tsp. salt, 2 tsp. black pepper, 1 tbsp. white wine vinegar, 3 tbsp. olive oil and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. Make sure all the ingredients are blended well until a smooth liquid has formed. Place the blanched asparagus in an oven-safe baking dish and pour the vinaigrette over the asparagus. Sprinkle a liberal amount of shredded parmesan cheese over the top to cover completely. Bake in an oven at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the liquid starts to boil slightly.

There are many other ways to bake the asparagus, so be creative. Always make sure to blanch the asparagus first to break down the fibers.

2. Sautéed

To sauté your asparagus properly, you will first need to blanch it for 3 minutes in boiling water then cool it down immediately in ice cold water to stop the cooking process.

Sautéing asparagus is very simple. The key is to use minimal ingredients to let the asparagus shine. In many fine dining restaurants, they just lightly sauté the asparagus in olive oil with a little bit of minced garlic, shallot and extra virgin olive oil. Finish with salt pepper and lemon juice to accent the natural flavors of the asparagus. You don’t need to cook them very long. It is a re-heat of the asparagus with the addition of a few ingredients. If you prefer a little heat, add a dash of red pepper flakes at the end.

Sautéing asparagus is very common among stir-fry and pasta, just make sure you don’t overcook the asparagus. Also, if you plan on using in a pasta or stir-fry, cut the spears up but try and avoid using the lower stalk of the asparagus as that part can become quite tough and difficult to eat.

3. Bisque or Soup

Asparagus can be made into a wonderful warm bisque or even a chilled soup, depending on which you prefer. You can use the whole spear of asparagus if you want to but, in all honesty, this is where you want to use the “waste” parts of the asparagus. Usually, when you eat asparagus in any other form of cooking, it is quite common to cut off the lower parts of the asparagus and throw them away. This part is very chewy and very fibrous and is usually just wasted. However, they are perfect to use if you want to make soup. Save these parts of the asparagus when cooking the spears at other times so that you may be able to use them to make soup because, in the end, they will just be ground up anyways.

In a large pot, combine 1 pound of asparagus, 2 cups of chicken stock, ¼ cup of yellow onion and 1 garlic clove. Bring to a boil, then cover with a lid and reduce to a medium simmer. You will want to cook for about 10 minutes or until the asparagus is very soft and tender, almost mushy. Then remove from the heat and place everything in a blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture is completely smooth. Transfer the asparagus mixture back to the pot and add ½ cup heavy whipping cream, ¼ cup sour cream, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. white pepper and the zest and juice of 1 lemon. Heat everything over a low simmer as to not scorch the soup while whisking constantly. Once the soup is hot, serve or chill it down completely and serve it cold. The soup will work either way.

4. Grilled

This is another way to prepare asparagus raw without having to pre-blanch or steam it. This is the simplest way to cook asparagus and is very common in the summertime. Asparagus is a springtime harvested vegetable, so it is very commonly eaten in the summer at a backyard barbeque. There is nothing to it. Just coat the asparagus vegetable oil, salt and pepper and grill over high heat until it is cooked to your liking. Some stalks will be thicker than others and may take longer to cook, but it is really up to you on how well you want it to be done. Some people prefer to cook the asparagus a little harder with high heat so that the tips or flowers of the spears become charred or burnt. This creates a little bit of a crunchy texture and is not all that bitter compared to other charred foods.

In the end, it doesn’t matter the method you use to cook your asparagus as long as you remember a few important key points. Don’t overcook it, pre-blanch it when necessary and use very few additional ingredients, so you don’t overpower the natural flavors of the asparagus. It may take a few trials and errors, but with a little practice, you will be a professional in no time!