Very little compares to the beauty and taste of a tender asparagus shoot in Spring. Served as a side dish, in a roll with mayonnaise, or as a bed for eggs - they're a no fuss, easy to cook vegetable. Deciding what goes with asparagus can be a challenge so we've compiled our favorite options on this page.
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What Goes With Asparagus?
|Bacon||Wrap whole asparagus spears in bacon or pancetta and bake until crisp.|
|Strawberries and sprouts||Create a fresh salad chopping all the ingredients and combining.|
|Salmon||Bake salmon and top with blanched asparagus.|
|Bacon and eggs||Fry the bacon and eggs and serve with a side of grilled asparagus.|
|Dill and toasted pine nuts||Bake the asparagus then top with fresh dill and freshly toasted pine nuts.|
|Chicken pasta||Cook your chicken pasta and stir in chopped, sauteed asparagus.|
Quick Tip: When selecting asparagus, choose stalks that look a vibrant green without any withered sections. It should snap between your fingers, not bend.
Asparagus comes in two common varieties, green and white. The difference between the two is that white asparagus grows under the ground while the green version grows out of the ground. Green asparagus is exposed to sunlight which gives it the green pigment.
White stemmed asparagus is usually milder in flavor, the green variety is earthier and has more flavor.
Related reading: What can I use as an asparagus substitute?
The beauty of asparagus is that it comprises of 90% water. This means they're low in calories - an excellent choice if you're looking for foods to aid with weight loss.
There are other nutritional benefits including antioxidants, vitamin A, C and K as well as being a good source of fiber.
Can you eat asparagus raw?
Asparagus is perfectly safe to eat raw. But cooking it has a benefit: it allows your body to easily absorb the protective antioxidants, specifically beta-carotene ferulic acid.
Raw asparagus is delicious as a crunchy dipping stick for sauce, served in a salad or even blitzed in a refreshing smoothie.
If you decide to cook asparagus, once cooked it should be a slightly less crispy texture; however, mushy asparagus means you've over cooked it.
How to cut asparagus
Preparing asparagus is as simple as cutting off the woody hard stalks. You can take the whole bunch and chop them all off at the same time.
The big question is, where to cut? The last thing you want is to chop off extra asparagus unnecessarily. The answer: take a stem between your fingers and bend it until it breaks. The point where it snaps is the best place to cut off the stalks. Now you can cut the rest of the stalks at the same point.
Asparagus Salad Recipe
This is a colorful salad that packs a nutritional punch. The steps below outline how to make the dish using cooked asparagus. You can skip the cooking stage and make this is salad using raw asparagus. Also a very tasty option!
Serves: 4. Prep time: 5 minutes
- 12 spears of asparagus
- 1 cup strawberries (quartered)
- ¼ cup alfalfa sprouts
- Balsamic glaze
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil then carefully add the asparagus using tongs. Blanch for 3 minutes in boiling water.
- Pour asparagus into a colander then add to an ice bath to stop the cooking process.
- Once cooled, slice asparagus into 2 inch pieces then add to a bowl with strawberries and alfalfa sprouts.
- Drizzle lightly with a balsamic glaze.
How to Cook Asparagus
1. On the grill
- Heat the BBQ until it reaches medium to high temperature.
- Lightly coat each asparagus spear with olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cook on grill for about 3-5 minutes.
2. In the microwave
- Place asparagus in a microwave proof dish.
- Sprinkle over a ¼ cup water. Season with salt.
- Cook on high for 3 minutes then check for tenderness. If they're still solid, cook for a further 2 minutes.
3. In the oven
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Place the asparagus in a single layer on a lined tray.
- Splash with olive oil then season lightly for salt.
- Bake for 15 minutes until tender.
4. On the stove (boiled asparagus)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to boil then carefully add the asparagus using tongs. Blanch for 3-4 minutes in boiling water.
- Strain asparagus in a colander and serve.
Asparagus cooked in bacon
Makes: 4 serves. Prep time: 5 minutes. Cook time: 5 minutes
- 12 asparagus spears
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- Black pepper to taste
- 6 bacon rashers (halved lengthways)
- Place the asparagus in a single layer on a lined tray.
- Splash with olive oil then season lightly with pepper.
- Wrap each asparagus piece with bacon then secure with a toothpick.
- Cook on BBQ on high for 5 minutes or until the bacon is crisp.
You can also wrap 3 asparagus spears in one rasher or bacon. This makes an impressive looking side dish served with a tender steak.
If you have leftover stems it's no problem. To store asparagus wrap the stalks in damp paper towels then add to an unsealed plastic bag. Store in the vegetable crisper for around 7 days.
An alternative option is to treat them similar to fresh flowers. Cut off about 1" of stalk then pop the stems in a glass of water. Place a ziplock plastic bag over the asparagus. Finally, place in the fridge and change the water every few days. They should last 2 weeks using this option!
Asparagus is a delicious ingredient that works well in many dishes. Although you can buy it throughout the year in many supermarkets, make the most of in-season Spring spears. They always have more flavor and color with a lovely crispy texture.
Asparagus combines wonderfully with salty, creamy or sweet ingredients; salmon, scallops, bacon, pancetta, strawberries and even pasta are excellent options. It is a versatile vegetable that will fit into many dishes - even next to a burger!
There are a huge number of recipes for cooking asparagus, some are offered on this page. Get creative when using asparagus. It's a tasty vegetable on its own, but when you combine it with a salty rasher of bacon, or the creamy texture of mayonnaise, that's when the magic happens.