Simplicity, Chef Jamie Simpson from the Culinary Vegetable Institute says, is key when it comes to cooking fresh asparagus, a vegetable that he refers to as the “siren of spring,” adding how “the appearance of this vegetable indicates that our long dark winters are behind us and greener pastures are within our grasp. We only eat asparagus when it is in season—sometimes, three times a day—and then we lust for it over for the next ten months.”
When asked, specifically, the best way to cook asparagus, Jamie listed a few options. Pick your favorite or try them all, including a delicious Asparagus Soup Recipe with Pea Tendrils that’s perfect when you want to make a more elegant dish.
There’s no need to peel asparagus. Simply wash the stalks and then roll twine around the bunch before blanching. That way, you won’t have to fish out the pieces once the blanching is done. Drop the asparagus stalks into boiling water and leave them there just long enough for the vegetable to soften in the center. Pull the bundle out and you’re all done.
Sautéed Asparagus/Charred Asparagus
Sautéing is an easy in, easy out way to cook asparagus and, when preparing the vegetable, the grill is your good friend, Jamie says. If you’re going to sear the asparagus, make the grill as hot as you can and then dress the vegetable very lightly with oil before placing the stalks on the grill. Close the lid and quickly and easily char the vegetable in the high heat.
Asparagus Soup Recipe with Pea Tendrils
When you want to make a soup to remember, here is Jamie’s Asparagus Soup Recipe with Pea Tendrils. Although it involves more steps than simply blanching or grilling asparagus, it’s still fairly easy to prepare—and the coriander and orange zest transform it into something truly special.
Storing Asparagus in Your Refrigerator
Recently Jamie has seen recommendations that share how fresh asparagus should be wrapped in foil before being placed in the fridge—but there’s a better way. “Asparagus needs to breath,” Jamie explains, “so we use an open container when storing asparagus. It can be a quart-sized deli container, or it can be a water glass or a vase. Cut the base of the asparagus, and then wrap the stalks loosely. If using a glass or vase, you can store the vegetable upright like a bouquet of flowers and the asparagus will continue to live in the refrigerator. Plus, you won’t forget it’s there.”
Vegetable Preparation Tips
For even more preparation tips, recipes and more, we invite you to consider our new book, The Chef’s Garden: A Modern Guide to Common and Unusual Vegetables—with Recipes. This book contains more than 100 of Jamie’s recipes with more than 500 entries where we explore “every single part of a particular plant’s life, whether those are vegetables you’re already using or unusual ones that you don’t know how to work with yet.”
About 95 percent of the recipes are vegetarian with the rest sharing unique ways to use meat and fish while keeping the spotlight on the vegetables. “Some recipes,” Jamie says, “are easy and will only take a few minutes to prep. Others, the more ambitious ones, will require planning ahead. I think it’s a nice mixture of the two.”