How To Prepare & Cook Asparagus. PLUS recipes: Asparagus with Salmon, New Potatoes & Lemon Butter & Mushroom & Asparagus Pasta

One thing I know about asparagus which is interesting, if slightly gross, is that eating it can make some people's urine smell weird. The other thing I know is that some people are a bit unsure of how to prepare or cook it so I decided to share my top asparagus tips. (apologies for the terrible pun.)

Of course you can buy ready trimmed asparagus but it's so easy to trim yourself - you don't even need a knife!

You simply grasp each end of your asparagus stalk between forefinger and thumb and bend the stalk until it snaps. The asparagus will naturally snap at the point where the woodiness ends and the tender part begins.

how to prepare asparagus for cooking

So how do you cook it?

Well as a simple accompaniment to a meal I usually lay the asparagus into a microwaveable bowl, add about 1 tsp of water per 6 tips, cover and microwave for about 2 minutes. You can prepare in advance but if you do this immediately plunge the tips into cold water and refresh by pouring hot water from the kettle over when ready to serve. It's lovely cold though too!

You can steam them, boil them or pan fry them gently for a couple of minutes. You want to keep the crunchiness of them - soggy asparagus is not great.

It makes a great vegetable side dish, canap├ęs or accompaniment for a BBQ. It's readily available in most supermarkets (it's on offer in my local Tesco at the moment!) or you can even go and pick your own on some farms.

Asparagus is lovely wrapped in parma ham and fried gently and I like it on with a good steak with a naughty helping of salted butter.
steak, coleslaw and buttered asparagus

I recently ate it atop pasta with pan-fried mushrooms, diced garlic and finely diced red onion, half fat creme fraiche , salt and pepper. It was delicious (thanks Karen!)

mushroom pasta with asparagus

Earlier this week I incorporated asparagus into the menu for a dish I was cooking for friends I met at antenatal classes when I was having my first baby more than 22 years ago.

I poached fresh salmon, boiled new potatoes and blended fresh lemon juice, salt and lemon zest into butter. I put the butter onto greaseproof paper, twisted it to make a sort of sausage shape then put it into the fridge to harden to make it easier to slice into discs.

I microwaved the asparagus for 2 minutes then plated the cooked potatoes.  I gently crushed the potatoes using a chopping board. This creates a nice flat platform for placing fish or meat onto!

I topped the potatoes on each plate with a piece of poached salmon, then added a disc of lemon butter, then a slice of lemon. The asparagus can be served on top, or nestling next to this dish.

poached salmon with crushed new potatoes, asparagus and lemon butter

It made a lovely filling but light and healthy lunch then we completed our meal with lovely fresh strawberries, a lemon tart and fresh cream. It was a lovely meal (and a lovely afternoon!)

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