Asparagus comes in three varieties, green, white, and purple, with green being the most commonly available. The most popular methods of cooking asparagus are by boiling, grilling, stir-frying, and steaming. Steaming is by far the healthiest way to prepare vegetables as it preserves the nutrients present in it.
Traditionally, steaming is done in a steamer basket or rack. But for those of you who do not have a steamer basket, you can also steam asparagus in a microwave or stove. When you buy asparagus, look for spears that are closed and stalks that are firm and fresh. Avoid buying bunches of asparagus that are dry, have spots on them, or are shriveled.
The size of the spears determines how long to steam asparagus. Asparagus stalks that are thin needs less time to cook than the thicker variety. If you are tired of having stir-fried or roasted asparagus and want to prepare a healthier steamed version, then here is a guide on how to steam asparagus.
Steaming Asparagus in a Steamer
- Clean the asparagus by discarding any discolored tips and rinsing them in a bowl of water.
- Pat dry each stalk with a kitchen towel and very gently snap off the woody end. Trim the ends of the asparagus with the help of a knife or peeler. If you have thin and delicate asparagus spears, then you do not need to peel the stalks.
- Now, place the asparagus in a steamer basket, taking care not to overlap them.
- Next, boil some water in a sauce pan and place the steamer basket over it. Cover the sauce pan with a lid and let the water simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes.
- Remove asparagus spears immediately from the steamer basket and arrange them in a platter.
- Serve them hot with a sprinkling of salt, freshly ground pepper, and a squeeze of lime.
If you are planning to serve the asparagus stalks cold, then remove them from the steamer basket and place them in a bowl of ice-cold water. This will make them firm again in case they have been overcooked and retain the color and texture of the asparagus.
- Add around 2 inches of water in the pot and then place the asparagus bundle upright in the pot.
- You can flavor the water with garlic, shallots, and lemon.
- Cover the pot with a lid and steam for around 4 to 5 minutes till the stalks are tender and the color has changes to a bright green.
- Transfer the steamed asparagus to a plate and serve with hollandaise sauce or a spoonful of butter and salt.
Steaming Asparagus in a Microwave
- First wash the asparagus bunch in running water, ensuring that you have cleaned it thoroughly.
- Trim the woody bottom portion of each asparagus stalk which is hard and inedible.
- If your asparagus stalks are very thick, peel the stalks to remove the outer covering.
- Now place the asparagus in a rectangular microwave safe dish, pour water over it, and add a tablespoon of salt in it.
- Cover the dish with a cling film and make a small vent on one side to enable the steam to escape.
- Place the dish in the microwave and cook for about 2 to 3 minutes.
This is how you cook asparagus in a microwave. Steaming asparagus in a microwave saves you a lot of time and effort.
Never overcook asparagus as it becomes mushy and unpalatable. Ideally, steamed asparagus should be cooked in a manner that it still retain its firmness and crispness. Steamed asparagus can be served either hot or cold. If you are serving the asparagus cold, then you need to immerse the steamed asparagus immediately in ice-cold water to preserve its color.
Freshly purchased asparagus lasts up to five days when stored in the refrigerator. You can keep asparagus fresh for a longer time by placing the asparagus bunch in a glass, upright in about two inches of water. Another great idea for storing asparagus is by wrapping the stalks in a moist paper towel and placing the bunch in an airtight plastic container.