Asparagus is often one of the first local vegetables to arrive in the supermarkets, signaling the start of spring. Like many green vegetables, it begins to lose its flavor the longer it is stored, but preparing it quickly after purchase ensures that it retains its flavor. Luckily, asparagus doesn’t require anything more than just a quick dip in boiling water to make a tasty side dish. After boiling, you can eat the asparagus on its own or incorporate it into a stir fry or another dish.
Pour enough water in a tall saucepan so the water covers the asparagus. Alternatively, pour 2 inches of water into a deep skillet. Salt the water and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Using a skillet is faster than a stock pot.
Wash and dry the asparagus. Hold each spear with both hands close to the bottom of the spear and break off the end. The end will break off at the point where the woody part of the asparagus meets the tender part.
Gently drop the asparagus into boiling water and boil for 3 to 5 minutes, depending on how tender you want the asparagus.
Remove the asparagus with tongs when they turn a bright green and place the asparagus in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking process. Let cool in the bowl for a minute or two before removing them to a clean dish. Serve with salt, pepper, butter or lemon juice, or a favorite sauce.
Select an asparagus bunch that has closed, tight heads.
Store asparagus in the refrigerator wrapped in a damp paper towel until ready for use.