Once you’ve mastered this versatile veggie, you can turn any weeknight dinner into a vibrant, satisfying meal.
While it’s great grilled, roasted, and boiled as well, we love sautéed asparagus for its crisp-tender texture (which you can achieve in just six to seven minutes). Save any extras for tossing into omelets or quiches, layering onto a goat cheese pizza, or tossing into pasta. Asparagus can also be processed into pesto (which tastes great with grilled steak!). When choosing asparagus at the grocery store or farmer’s market, look for firm, bright stalks with plump, tightly closed tips (fading color is a sign of deterioration). The diameter of an asparagus spear indicates when it was harvested, and both thick and thin spears can be sweet and tender, as long as they’re fresh. Thick spears are generally harvested at the beginning of the season—the stalks get thinner as the season wears on. Uncooked asparagus will stay fresh for three to four days in the refrigerator, and the key is to keep it cool and damp. Store spears upright in a container with the stems wading in an inch of water, then cover loosely with a plastic bag. Easier still: Wrap the ends in moist paper towels and drop the bundle in a plastic bag. Green isn’t the only shade asparagus comes in, either. The much rarer white asparagus has a milder flavor and a softer texture. Purple asparagus, which is sometimes available at farmer’s markets, is slightly sweeter and more tender than green asparagus, and turns dark green when cooked because the purple pigment is destroyed by heat.