Asparagus is one of those versatile vegetables that manages to either highlight most ingredients or confidently stand on its own. Its soft crunch gives it the ideal complementary texture to eggs, its distinct flavor adds depth to salads, and its bright green shade pops against meats and seafood. In other words, it works for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But that's not the only reason this veggie should be a refrigerator staple. Asparagus is loaded with enough iron, calcium, protein, fiber, and vitamins to make a few spears worth your time.
Given all of these benefits, we have to ask: Do you know how to make asparagus? If you were thinking, I wasn't even sure how to spell it, earlier, well, now's your chance to get acquainted. We've gathered our four favorite ways to prepare it perfectly so that soon you'll be able to sauté, roast, grill, and steam asparagus like a made-to-order chef anytime you feel like it.
Let's say you spent most of your time whipping up a big dinner but forgot to make a side. Don't panic. Sautéed asparagus will come to the rescue in about 15 minutes. Use the recipe Laura from Fork Knife Swoon got from a special someone to make this fast and delicious option.
"My dad actually turned me on to the method of quickly cooking the asparagus over high heat with a little oil and generous seasoning, for just a few minutes," she says. "This adds a ton of flavor, and yields tender, sweet, perfect asparagus, every time."
Martha Rose Shulman from The New York Times has a clever trick for roasting asparagus: Opt for thick stalks. That way, when you toss the asparagus with salt, pepper, and olive oil—and cook it in an even layer at 400°F for 20 minutes—the asparagus "becomes positively juicy."
Her other tip? "Err on the side of extravagance, and polish up any leftovers for lunch the next day," she says.
Asparagus isn't perfect, despite its versatility. Case in point: It can fall between the grates of a grill and go up in flames before you even taste it. But here's a trick writer Meghan Splawn from The Kitchn discovered when she was looking for a way to get a flavorful char without the burn: Connect a few asparagus stalks with skewers.
"Threaded together, you can cook five to six skewers at once and transform fresh asparagus into a fast and fancy side with just olive oil, salt, and pepper," she says.
When you’re not in the mood to do much cooking, Splawn proves once again that asparagus is the way to go. Why? It can be steamed in the microwave. All you need to do is rinse and trim a few—a must for any asparagus prep—dampen a paper towel, and wrap a bundle inside it.
"Laid flat in the microwave, the asparagus will cook unevenly. The rolled bundle will cook more evenly," she says.