Mmm… asparagus.

May 18th, 2010

Truth be told… I was never a huge fan of asparagus. Actually, I hated it. To me, texture is everything and I hate the stalky texture of asparagus. I also don’t like it when they get soggy either, so it’s a lose-lose battle for me. :P Then my mother-in-law told me about a way to bake them that’ll make them crisp and tender at the same time, so I gave it a whirl. She told me to lay them out on a tray and drizzle olive oil over the asparagus. Worth a shot. My husband really liked them… but as usual, I didn’t care for them.

This past Christmas, we were invited to a neighborhood progressive dinner and the neighbor who was serving the main course had asparagus as part of the meal. Not meaning to be rude, I took a couple and put it on my plate as they passed it around. After my husband bit into it and said they were the most yummiest asparagus he’s ever had, I HAD to try it. I did and was soooooo amazed at how tender and juicy, yet crisp asparagus could be! I was in awe… I mean I’ve never been a fan so I never really bothered to learn how to prepare/cook it, but this was simply AMAZING! I asked my neighbor how she did it and she let me in on a trick: use a plastic bag. She put the asparagus into the bag and then poured the olive oil into the bag and baste them inside the bag! Wow, whodathunk that? :P DO NOT soak/douse them, though! Just pour enough into the bag to barely coat them in olive oil. Then sprinkle some salt and pepper into the bag and shake it gently a bit more.

Now the condition of the asparagus is a BIG factor in how they’ll turn out. Don’t buy stalks that are just cut and rubberbanded together like most grocery stores have them. I mean if you get them freshly cut from the farm, that’s another story (I think). Well I guess you could purchase them that way, but you wouldn’t be able to just prep and cook them immediately. You’d have to soak the ends in some water for a bit before actually cooking them. Apparently, if the asparagus stalk is dry, it’ll have that stalky texture, which I cannot stand. It makes me want to just puke it back up. D: So I believe the best way to use those is to let it sit in some water for an hour or so… maybe. Don’t quote me on that. <.<

Anyways, I prefer to buy the asparagus that is packaged up from Trader Joe’s. It has this padded thing that has a bit of moisture in it to keep them from drying out completely. That helps prevent the ends of the stalks from drying out and thus eliminates the need to let them soak up some water. After I remove them from the package, I rinse them out under running water and trim the ends. Today, I read that if you peel/shave the outer skin of the bottom half of the stalk, it allows it to cook further in and make them more tender. That’s usually my problem area as far as asparagus enjoyment goes.

After I rinsed, trimmed and peeled, I let them dry over some paper towel, then used more paper towel and pat-dried them a bit more to get rid of the access water. You don’t want access water on the asparagus because it’ll cause them to steam inside the oven, thus end up being more soggy in the end. After that, I let them air-dry for a bit and grabbed a plastic bag. The big freezer storage ones work the best since they’re big enough to hold the asparagus from the side for even coating. I placed them into the bag and then poured the olive oil in. Make sure to just pour enough to coat them, not soak them. Be sure that the tips are covered otherwise they’ll just get too crispy and dried out. Since asparagus cooks unevenly, making sure that the tips have more moisture on them is also a good thing.

After the olive oil is finished, you can either start adding salt into the bag and gently shake it around, or do it over the tray. Both methods work but I’ve noticed that the bag method is easier to get all the way around the asparagus. Touching up on the tray is fine and is what I do, too. After they are sufficiently coated with olive oil, place some foil over the tray and lightly spray it with Pam. Make sure they’re laid out evenly and flat on the tray, otherwise they’ll cook unevenly and have a steaming effect rather than roast. I’d recommend not just dumping them out onto the tray. Pull them out with a pair of tongs or something similar. You don’t want any access olive oil on the tray.

Summary:

  • Pick out packaged asparagus that have a little moisture pack at the bottom.
  • Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Trim the bottom as you’re rinsing them under running water.
  • Peel the outer skin of the bottom half of the stalk for more tender bottoms.
  • Place them into a plastic bag (the big freezer sized ones).
  • Coat them with olive oil (don’t drench them!). Add salt/pepper/garlic powder/etc.
  • Cover a tray with foil and spray it lightly with Pam.
  • Lay them flat on the tray.
  • Bake for 8-10 minutes, then flip the asparagus so the bottom side roasts as well.
  • If need be, sprinkle/splash a bit of water on the tops to prevent them from drying out.
  • Bake for another 8-10 minutes. Should be slightly browned and dark green in color. :)

For more information, please visit this site. It’s where I learned a lot of handy asparagus tricks! ^____^