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Preparing Asparagus

Everyday Food, Volume 31 April 2006

One sure sign of spring is fresh asparagus in the produce aisle. Here are three basic and easy ways to serve this vegetable.

Steamed Asparagus
Roasted Asparagus
Blanched Asparagus

Which Method?
Steaming thicker stalks leaves them sweet and crunchy, while roasting them will yield heartier flavor and softer texture. Blanching is best for thin stalks when you want them crisp-tender.

Choosing
Pick smooth, unwrinkled stalks with tightly closed tips. Thicker, meatier stalks are usually sweeter, but just as tender as the thin ones.

Storing
Keep in a plastic bag in crisper drawer away from ethylene-producing fruit like apples and pears, which toughen the stalks. Note that storing bunches upright in water may cause the tips to open.

Rinse and Snap
The tender tips can be especially sandy; holding bunch upside down, gently swish them in cold water. Then to snap off the tough woody bottoms, bend the stalk at the natural breaking point (where the color changes from white to green), 1 to 2 inches from the base.