Spring asparagus gets a savory makeover
by Hara Dretaki
In a vertical steamer, add an inch of water and bring to a boil. Place the steamer basket with the asparagus inside, so the stems are in the water and the tops are in the steam. Cover the pot and steam until tender, 3 to 6 minutes depending on the spears’ thickness.
In a large saucepan bring water to a boil. The pan should be wide enough for the asparagus to lie horizontally. Drop in the asparagus and steam until tender, 3 to 6 minutes. Remove the asparagus from the water using tongs and rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking and set the color. Drain well, pat dry, and serve.
Heat the oven to 450°. Arrange the spears in a single layer on a baking sheet with sides, leaving a little space between them. Drizzle with olive oil, roll them around to coat, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place the sheet in the oven and roast until tender, 7 to 10 minutes.
Steam the spears for 2 minutes. Refresh with cold water and pat dry. Arrange the spears on soaked wooden skewers and the put them on a hot grill for 4 to 5 minutes occassionally flipping each spear over to give them a hint of smokiness.
Choose asparagus spears of a uniform length so that they will cook in the same amount of time. The more yellow they are, the older they are and the more likely to be woody. If you snap off the end, a little moisture should appear.
Peel away the tough outer layers of your spears with an asparagus peeler like this one, which can be found at LeRoux at Home on 62 Main St., Vineyard Haven, $3.99.
Asparagus may be served hot or cold. Try varying the sauces—melted butter with chopped fresh parsley and a squeeze of lemon, sesame-soy, or your favorite vinaigrette.