Learn how to cook asparagus like a pro! In this article, I’m sharing helpful tips and tricks, delicious recipes, and lots of information about asparagus – from buying and storing over peeling, cooking and using leftovers to creamy vegan asparagus sauces and more!
Asparagus is not only a delicious vegetable, but it’s also packed with health benefits. It contains a lot of nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, vitamin C, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin E as well as flavonoids and polyphenols for strong antioxidant properties.
I always look forward to asparagus season when the spears are growing and waiting for us in the supermarkets. Starting around mid-April until June, we can enjoy the green or white asparagus with hollandaise sauce and use it in many different veggie dishes.
Table of contents
How do you pick a good asparagus?
Since ancient times, the sprouted vegetable has been cultivated in Europe and has a long tradition. Asparagus comes in two different colors: green and white. Both varieties are equally delicious and have their own flavor nuances. Green asparagus, for example, has a spicier flavor and is more tender than white asparagus. This is because it is not buried in the ground like white asparagus and therefore receives more sunlight.
White asparagus, on the other hand, is grown underground and has a milder flavor. When buying this vegetable, it is important to look for freshness and quality. Fresh asparagus has a smooth and moist surface that bends easily. The ends should not be dried out, but look juicy. When buying green asparagus, make sure the heads are closed and not discolored.
It is also important to note that asparagus should not be too old. Older asparagus can be woody and less tender. Make sure the spears have no woody ends and show no signs of mold or decay.
How to prep and peel asparagus
If you’re preparing white asparagus, it’s important to peel it thoroughly for a tender and creamy texture.
Start by thoroughly washing the asparagus stalks and patting them dry. Then lay flat on a cutting board or work surface and simply snap off the woody ends or trim with a sharp knife. To make this easier, use a vegetable peeler and peel off the thick outer bits first. Gradually work your way up, until the skin is completely removed, especially at the thicker ends.
It is important to be attentive to the peeling process to ensure the skin is completely removed. Otherwise, the asparagus stalk can become fibrous and tough. Therefore, you should use an asparagus peeler or a sharp knife and work carefully. This will make your vegan cream of asparagus soup really flavorful.
Does green asparagus need to be peeled?
The good thing about green asparagus is that you can eat just about all of it. Most of the vitamins are right under the skin. Only the woody ends of the asparagus stalks should be cut off by about 1-2 cm. If the asparagus is a bit older, you may have to peel the lower third a bit.
How long does green or white asparagus need to cook?
The cooking time for green or white asparagus depends on the thickness of the spears and how soft you want it to be. In general, green asparagus requires less prep time and cooking time than white asparagus. Depending on the size of the pot and further use, you can chop the asparagus into pieces or leave it whole.
Generally, green asparagus takes about 4-6 minutes, until tender and bright green. If you like it softer, you can cook it for up to 8-10 minutes. White asparagus usually takes 8-12 minutes to get al dente. Cook it for 15-20 minutes if you prefer it softer. However, don’t overcook asparagus, or their heads will quickly become mushy.
Tip: You can also roast asparagus on a baking sheet in the oven or cook in a pan or air fryer. Of course, you can steam asparagus in a steamer basket too! Feel free to grill asparagus at your next bbq party! Here’s how to cook asparagus.
Video Tutorial – How to peel and cook asparagus
What can I do with the asparagus water?
Asparagus water is the aromatic broth left over from cooking asparagus. It contains many nutrients and an intense asparagus flavor. Use it to cook rice or soups, as a base for sauces, or as a refreshing drink with some lemon juice or mint. If you don’t use it right away, you can freeze the asparagus water and use it later. Remember that it can be salty and may need to be diluted.
Why put sugar in cooking water?
Asparagus needs salt and sugar because that’s what allows the vegetable to release its flavor freely and neutralize the bitter compounds. A sugar-salt mixture thus prevents the asparagus from tasting too tart. A drizzle of fresh lemon juice should also not be missing. The rule of thumb is ½ tsp. salt to 1 liter of water.
What can I do with the skin?
You may be wondering what you can do with the asparagus skin. Don’t throw them away by any means, but save them for other delicious and vegan recipes. Asparagus peels are often full of flavor and can be used in a variety of ways. Here are some tips on how you can use the peels:
- Asparagus Broth: Boil the peels in water for 30-40 minutes to make soup base or broth. Add spices to enhance the flavor and drain to remove the peels. Store the broth in screw-top jars in the refrigerator for a few days or freeze it in freezer-safe containers.
- Asparagus Soup: You can also use the asparagus broth to make a delicious cream of asparagus soup.
- Asparagus Risotto: use the broth as a base for a delicious risotto.
- Asparagus Sauce: The aromatic asparagus broth is also perfect as a sauce base!
How to store asparagus in the refrigerator?
Both green and white asparagus can be stored in the refrigerator for a good 3-4 days. Simply wrap the bunch in a damp paper towel and then in a plastic bag and place in the vegetable compartment. Green asparagus also keeps well if you place it like a bouquet of flowers, ends down, in a container with some water and then store it in a cool place away from light.
Can pregnant women eat asparagus?
It is perfectly permissible to enjoy asparagus during pregnancy, as long as it is fresh and properly prepared. Asparagus contains many important nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and fiber, which are important for a healthy diet during pregnancy.
However, asparagus can be diuretic, so pregnant women should make sure to drink enough water to compensate for fluid loss. In addition, pregnant women should always make sure to wash asparagus well and cook or bake it properly to avoid food poisoning or infections.
It’s recommended to get vegetables from trustworthy sources anyway and make sure they are stored properly. However, please discuss this with your gynecologist or midwife beforehand to be sure.
Tips for vegan asparagus sauces
When it comes to asparagus sauces, many people often just think of the classic hollandaise sauce. But there are many delicious ways to prepare a vegan sauce for asparagus. One easy and delicious option, in addition to homemade hollandaise sauce based on vegan butter, soy milk and lemon juice, is a light vinaigrette made with olive oil, vinegar and mustard. This adds a delicious flavor to any salad.
Another alternative is a creamy sauce made from cashews and tossed with garlic, lemon juice and spices. For a touch of sweetness and spiciness, you can also make a mango chili sauce using fresh mangoes, chili, agave syrup and lime juice. With these delicious options, every asparagus relish becomes a special taste experience.
Aside of that I love adding chopped blanched asparagus to spring salads, bowls or pasta sprinkled with vegan parmesan cheese or folding it into vegan scrambled eggs. You can also peel raw asparagus into thin ribbons and toss with cherry tomatoes, arugula, vegan feta and lemon juice for a refreshing salad.
The Best Asparagus Recipes
- Pasta Primavera
- Asparagus Puff Pastry Bundles
- Creamy Asparagus Risotto
- Vegan Hollandaise Sauce
- Cream of Asparagus Soup
If you try one of my asparagus recipes, I would be very happy if you share your experience with me. Feel free to leave your comment and give a rating. I’m always excited to see the different variations that come out of my recipes and love to share them on my Instagram channel @biancazapatka. So have fun trying them out! 🙂
How to cook Asparagus (Easy Recipe + Video)Author:
- 17.6 oz (500 g) asparagus
- ½ tsp salt per 1 liter of water
- ½ tsp sugar per 1 liter of water
*Note: Check out the video tutorial + step-by-step pictures above!
- In a large pot, bring water, salt and sugar to a boil.
- In the meantime, peel the asparagus and cut off the woody ends. (You can save the peels and use them as suggested here).
- When the water boils, add the asparagus. Then immediately reduce the heat, put a lid on the pot and let the asparagus simmer for about 5-10 minutes, depending on the type of asparagus and the thickness of the asparagus spears (see How long does asparagus need to cook?).
- Then remove from the water, sprinkle with lemon juice and serve with vegan hollandaise sauce and any side dishes. Enjoy your meal!
- Find the oven method here.
- Click here to jump directly to the table of contents!
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