Different asparagus varieties of thin or thick spears appear in our gardens and in the market throughout the spring and into summer. Although the local asparagus season is over this year as it has begun to bolt (the heads elongating and spread apart and the branches opening up) but we can enjoy some still available in stores. Another cause of thin stalks is sometimes due to the plant’s stress from lack of water. Asparagus can be served whole either grilled, roasted, steamed or boiled. Some folks like to peel the spears if the outer skin is tough using a potato peeler. Personally, I have never felt asparagus needed peeling.
1 lb (450 g) fresh asparagus spears
2 tbsp (25 ml) olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar
½ each red and yellow bell peppers, seeded, cut into small cubes
2 spring onions, white and green parts, finely sliced
2 tbsp (26 ml) drained capers
Salt and pepper
1. To prepare spears, grasp each one with both hands and snap it; it will break at a point above the tender part (save the butt ends for soup). Here are four cooking methods;
2. To grill: toss asparagus with 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and spread on grill pan; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill about 5 – 6 minutes over medium heat, turning often to brown evenly.
To roast: Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C). Toss asparagus with 1 tbsp (15 ml) olive oil and spread on bake sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast about 8 – 10 minutes until asparagus is slightly browned and tender when pierced with tip of sharp knife.
To steam: lay asparagus in steamer tray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cover tightly. Steam about 8 – 10 minutes or until tender.
To boil: half fill a low-sided saucepan or skillet with water and bring to boil on high heat. Salt to taste. Gently drop the asparagus spears into the boiling water. Boil spears about 2 – 3 minutes or until they are tender when pierced at the thickest part with the tip of a sharp knife. Meanwhile fill sink or bowl with water and ice cubes. Drain pan immediately when asparagus is tender and still an intense green colour and plunge them into the ice-cold water. Drain well.
3. Lay the cooked asparagus in a flat salad bowl. In bowl, combine 1 tbsp (15 ml) oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and pour over asparagus. Combine the peppers, onions, capers and salt and pepper to taste. Lay the mixture across the spears in a pattern.
4. Serve at room temperature in chilled.