Kitchen Confidence

How to Prep Asparagus

By • May 7, 2013 • 3 Comments

How to Prep Asparagus, brought to you by Wüsthof.

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: How to prep, slice, chop, and shave spring's most welcome vegetable.

Asparagus ready

Sure, we get excited about sunshine, about lighter jackets, about the flowers that bloom in our gardens, along the streets. But when springtime comes, we find ourselves fiending for -- and hoarding -- bundles and bundles of asparagus.

It's the spring vegetable that we're stuffing into omelets, tossing into pasta, shaving into salads, and making simply on its own. Here's how we prep it for each of our favorite spring dishes -- so we can get you as excited about asparagus as we are.

After giving your bundle a good soak in water to remove any grit, hold the bottom of an asparagus stalk in your two hands. Break off the woody end -- this should happen at its natural breaking point. (Or you can slice off the bottom 6-7 inches of the stalk, which Harold McGee does.) Repeat for all of your remaining asparagi.

More: Our 7 Favorite Asparagus Recipes.

Snapping 1 Snapping 2

For dishes that merit bigger pieces of asparagus -- ones where asparagus shines (mostly) on its own, like this Oyster Sauce Glazed Asparagus and Mushrooms -- slice the stalks into thirds or fourths on a bias. 

Slicing Slicing

For recipes where asparagus is more an ingredient than the star -- like in a pasta or grain dish -- chop it into smaller pieces. This will ensure you get a piece (or three!) in each bite.

Sicing

You can also shave asparagus -- and then use it raw in salads. Grip the spear and peel down the length of the stalk until you have a pile of soft, green shavings. Mix those with mint, toasted hazelnuts, and parmesan, and save the spears for another dish (like this one). 

Alternatively, for dishes calling for whole asparagus, you can shave the bottom end of the stalk for an elegant presentation.

Shaving

We'll be slicing, chopping, and shaving asparagus until we clear out the market -- and spring turns to summer.

What are your favorite ways to use asparagus? Let us know in the comments!

Read more:
Nobu's Fried Asparagus with Miso Dressing
Down & Dirty: Asparagus
Couscous with Asparagus, Chervil & White Wine

Prepped asparagus

Photos by James Ransom

This article was brought to you by Wüsthof.

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Tags: kitchen confidence, vegetables, wustoff, spring, asparagus, how to, prepping vegetables, prep, how-to & diy

Comments (3)

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about 1 year ago Gildy

Know what seems to be taking off in the UK and I am doing all that I can to attend as many as possible but using public transport(buses)makes it difficult to attend Farmers Markets and Food Festivals. My area is a bit thin on such events even though its not rural. Also in these austere times I think markets are taking off again and giving quality and reasonable prices. Also giving us access to a variety of food and retailers that many towns have seen close or given supermarkets the lions share of money spent. It also means I get out and see some areas I normally wouldn't. So its good for the soul.

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about 1 year ago Rachel Davis

Thank you for another helpful article~
I just pulled out asparagus and potatoes coated with salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon olive oil.

Look around your town or city and see if any local gardeners sell asparagus. We have a pleasant elderly couple that sells asparagus and berries seasonally.
Gosh I think they are as grand as their produce.

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about 1 year ago Gildy

Some vegetables have to be a treat due to low income but have purchased some asparagus recently...ok I cheated I had a chicken pie(family sized)reduced. Short crust pastry with a cream sauce. I did not think about the different ways to prepare asparagus but added it(chopped)also leeks and ham, broke the lid off the pie, put the lid back on...should get two or three meals out of the pie and can have it with other vegetables and ways of doing potatoes. One day I may manage to make a pie of my own :o)