The recipes and ways you can prepare asparagus are many. Cooked and pureed into soups, tucked into egg dishes and pasta salads, battered, deep-fried and served with garlic aoili, roasted and finished off with big shavings of parmesan cheese.
At the beginning of Spring when asparagus starts to first show up at farmers markets in all its tapered glory, I like to enjoy it simply, with nothing more than a quick saute and drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and maybe a sprinkling of sea salt. The cultivated cousin of the asparagus shoot-a rare delicacy eaten by ancient Greeks and Egyptians- asparagus merits savoring in its simplest forms. No bells and whistles needed here.
Towards the end of Spring when asparagus bins make room for more rhubarb and containers of strawberries, that’s when I start mixing it into salads and such.
As with most warm weather vegetables asparagus is pretty easy to cook. Whether you choose thick or thin stalks is up to you. Thick stalks need to be trimmed at their woody ends, pencil thin stalks can be left alone and need no blanching. I don’t have a preference but I do find thin stalks to be a bit more fibrous.
When buying asparagus be sure and choose medium green colored spears with tightly closed tips.
Before cooking prep thicker stalks by cutting off the tough woody end. To do this take one asparagus and bend it at the cut end to see where it naturally snaps apart. Cut all your spears to this size. Discard the ends.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Carefully add in the asparagus. Cook for four minutes and remove with tongs and place in a bowl with very cold water.
In a large saute pan over medium-high heat add one tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil with one tablespoon of butter. When the butter starts to foam and then subside add the asparagus spears and saute two minutes, constantly moving them around in the pan to make sure every piece is glistening from the oil and butter.
Remove asparagus from pan with tongs and place on serving platter.
Sprinkle with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper. If you are feeling especially frisky pour any remaining oil and butter from the pan over the cooked asparagus