Asparagus is one of those vegetables that instantly adds an element of style to any dish, and if you know how to cook asparagus well, then you will get the flavour bang on too. Compared to other veggies, asparagus just looks refined, something about its pencil-like shape and those delicate asparagus tips..anyhow, see it on a restaurant menu and it’s a good menu, start including it on the menu at home and you’re winning.
As well as being visually lovely, asparagus is also super tasty and crammed with micronutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium and more, plus antioxidants, so this not so humble veggie has heaps of health benefits (it is green after all).
Pair asparagus with eggs for brunch, – they will soak up that hollandaise like you wouldn’t believe – add them to a risotto, or have them as an accompaniment to fish or meat. The options are fairly endless when it comes to food pairings.
While asparagus is usually harvested from April in the UK, through to June, they are more than likely to be available in your local supermarket. And if you’re unfamiliar with asparagus, you can eat the whole thing including the bumpy tip, leaving the tough, woody end, (if not trimmed off) so it's a really nice addition to every meal.
For more recipes visit our food hub and otherwise, check out how to prepare and cook asparagus to perfection.
How long to cook asparagus
This depends on the method and size of the asparagus also, but it’s safe to say that like with most vegetables, keeping that al dente crunch is preferable to retain the most flavour. You can cook asparagus for any amount of time between 1–2 minutes for thin varieties, to 8–10 minutes if steaming and/or if on the fatter side so it really depends and you’ll soon learn how long they need.
How to boil asparagus
This is probably the simplest, and healthiest of all the asparagus cooking options. How long to boil asparagus for, depends (as above) on the size and variety you have.
- Bring a pan of water to the boil, add a pinch of salt
- Meanwhile, prepare your asparagus by rinsing them and cutting off the tough end (the opposite to the dainty tip). It usually just needs 1–2cm off.
- Add the asparagus to the pan of water for 3–5 minutes, until you can easily pierce the asparagus with a fork or knife.
- Drain once done and serve as they are with a little cracked black pepper, more salt (to taste) and lemon.
- For a little more luxe, toss them in butter before adding the rest.
How to cook asparagus in the oven
This is a lovely option which will bring out richer flavours and some great crunch too. Plus, it's an easy add on to whatever you're cooking in the oven already so as not to waste energy. Add them in for the last 12–15 minutes of your salmon, tofu, chicken or other main meal cooking and job done!
- Pre-heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6
- Prepare the asparagus as above
- Add them to a roasting tray with a good dose of oilve oil, salt and pepper.
- Put them in the oven once pre-heated and roast for 12 minutes under a little brown at the tips and tender.
How to grill asparagus
Grilled or pan-fried asparagus brings so much flavour to the party and it's a method that everyone should try. The following method calls for a griddle pan, but should you have a George Foreman grill or other type of grilling machine to hand, you can try that no problem.
- Heat your pan to a fairly high heat and prepare your asparagus as above.
- Toss the asparagus in extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper then add them to the griddle pan.
- Grill them, turning occasionally as you want some colour but nothing too charred – approximately 3–4 minutes.
How to cook asparagus tips
You will need a good, heavy non-stick frying pan, plenty of oil, which asparagus likes to soak up, and plenty of seasoning. Sea salt and chilli flakes are our favourites, but you could also add all-purpose seasoning, paprika, or a herb mix.
1. Begin by washing and trimming the asparagus. There's really no need to keep the tough, thicker ends of the stems: they don't taste good at all and are stringy.
2. Warm about four tablespoon of sunflower or olive oil in your frying pan. Fry the asparagus quickly, on high heat, so that it browns a bit on the outside.
3. Season, reduce heat, and simmer for as long as 10 minutes. Contrary to popular belief, asparagus does benefit from cooking longer. It'll be much smoother and more flavoursome if you over cook it a little.
Serve with potato mash (our favourite way), rice, or anything that takes your fancy.