F-A-I-L. How in bloody h-e-double-toothpicks in nine years of cooking vegetables did I ever miss this most basic way to cook asparagus? These are my
"Couldn't see for looking," my mother used to say when she couldn't find something and then suddenly, there it was, right before her eyes.
Some times the most obvious is least expected.
Some times it's possible to hide in plain sight.
When the first asparagus showed up in the supermarket a couple of weeks ago, Missouri was still a frozen, snowy place. Buying asparagus felt like defying winter, a determined act of spring hope. I threw the first batch in the microwave for lunch one day, grabbing the camera after the first bite: perfect, absolutely perfect. That night, I put another batch in the microwave: again, a hit. I remembered my long-time favorite asparagus steamer and relegated it to the basement storage room year-round. For a fast fresh vegetable, microwave asparagus is terrific!
NOW. I know some people object to microwaves and strongly believe that a microwave removes nutrients from food. I don't share that idea but do respect your viewpoint. If you'd like to comment, do but be polite and respect my viewpoint as well. Impolite comments will be
RECIPE for MICROWAVE ASPARAGUS
Time to table: 10 minutes
Fresh asparagus, thin or thick spears
Per pound, 1 teaspoon butter (cut into tiny dots) or olive oil, optional but delicious
Salt & pepper to taste
Wash the asparagus under running water. Snap the "woody ends" off each spear: each spear will have a natural breaking point, just gently bend the spear toward the end, if it doesn't break there with ease, move toward the tip a bit, bending-bending-bending until it breaks easily. (After you do this a few times, you'll do it without even thinking, just bend-bend snap-snap. Oh! And don't miss the cook's treat! One end of that woody piece is usually a nice bite of fresh, raw vegetable while you're cooking dinner. Take a bite, it's great!) Arrange the spears in a microwave-safe dish, two or three spears deep is fine. Dot with butter or drizzle with oil if you're up for that. Otherwise, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high:
For 1 pound asparagus (3 servings) – 4 minutes
For 1-1/2 pounds asparagus (4.5 servings) – 6 minutes
For 2 pounds asparagus (6 servings) – 7 minutes
Season with salt and pepper. Dig in! Also very good chilled for serving later.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
THICK OR THIN? While thick asparagus spears are best for roasting and thin asparagus spears are best for raw salads, pick your pleasure for the microwave.
THOSE WOODY ENDS Those pieces we cut off asparagus spears really add up: start with a pound of asparagus, you'll end up with only about 2/3 pound edible vegetable. If that matters, plan accordingly.
TO STRIPE OR NOTE TO STRIPE? Some asparagus spears can be a little tough. If so, use a vegetable peeler to peel off the outer skin (especially opposite the tender tips) either entirely or in stripes. I find this more important with asparagus from the garden than with asparagus from the grocery store.
MICROWAVE The power on microwaves does vary but the times stated worked perfectly for me. Sorry, it's an older microwave without a power label.
VARIATIONS Instead of butter, try a squeeze of lemon juice, a glug of soy sauce, etc. Check your pantry and fridge for ideas. Go crazy because you're going to want to cook asparagus in the microwave all the time.
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MORE FAVORITE ASPARAGUS RECIPES
~ Six Years of Favorite Asparagus Recipes ~
~ Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad ~
~ Slow-Roasted Asparagus ~
~ Spring Garden Vegetable Soup with Asparagus, Artichokes, Peas & Spinach ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Roasted Salmon & Asparagus ~
~ Easy-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup ~
~ Asparagus Custard Tart ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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