A good way to figure out how much of the end of a stalk of asparagus needs to be removed is to simply hold the stalk by the bottom, and about halfway up the stem, with both hands, and bend it. The stalk will snap right where the tough part begins, leaving you a tender stalk of asparagus for the rest. Simply discard the bottom and cook as above.

Mmmm, tasty. Of course asparagus makes some people's urine smell funny.

Well, there are several ways to cook asparagus, the key however is to not overcook it!.

There are actually two methods to prepare asparagus for cooking, one of which is listed by mrichich, and that is to find that "natural breaking point", however this is deemed by many to be rather wasteful. For a vegetable apsaragus isn't cheap. It's a less wasteful thing (although I'll admit it's more labor intensive) to get out your vegetable peeler (potato peeler, what-have-you) and to peel the bottom few inches of each stalk, the inner portion is tender and delicious. Also make sure to wash your asparagus.


Boiling -
The most common method to cook asparagus is by boiling/steaming it. Because asparagus is thicker at the bottom this has become a good method for cooking your asparagus uniformly. Fill a tall stock-pot with water, you want it deep enough that if you stick an asapargus stalk in the water the top few inches will remain above the water. Now, bundle your asparagus. When the water comes to a boil stand the bundle upright in the pot and cook until the bottoms become tender (you do not want the asparagus to become limp).

Steaming -
You can just steam the whole things, using a low steaming rack in a tall pot, bundle and steam the aparagus similar to the boiling method. Steaming cooks the asparagus slightly slower and maintains more of the nutrients and flavor.

Roasting -
Ok, this is my favorite, it retains nearly all the nutrients and flavor of the asparagus, and it's really easy. Just lay your prepped asparagus out on a baking sheet and pop them into a 350-400 degree oven for a few minutes, until the stems are tender (the tips may char a little, just scrape that off with a knife).

I hope this gives you more of an insight into cooking this noble vegetable. Asparagus is one of the oldest vegetables that we have evidence of being eaten by ancient cultures and the boiling method above was actually published in the first written cookbook. Don't pass this ingredient up next time you're in the produce section of your local supermarket. Aside form being high in vitamins, it is a beautiful garnish. Try cutting the asparagus into half-inch lengths and arranging them into a ring mold, this makes an excellent and attractive base on which to place the main dish.

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