One of the quickest and easiest ways to prepare fresh asparagus is to simply blanch them for a couple of minutes and toss them with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and lemon zest.
Boiling them for only a couple minutes ensures that they will be cooked through, but still crisp and vibrant green. Asparagus should have a gentle crunch to them; they should not be mushy.
A little lemon zest helps brighten the natural flavor of the asparagus, and the Parm and olive oil? Well, of course they make everything taste good.
- 1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
- 2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (omit if cooking vegan)
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Heat blanching water: Fill a medium saucepan halfway with lightly salted water. Bring to a boil.
2 Prep the asparagus: While the water is heating, prepare the asparagus. Rinse them thoroughly; break off any tough, white bottoms and discard.
Cut the spears into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.
3 Blanch the asparagus: Add the asparagus to the boiling water and lower the heat slightly to maintain a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes.
4 Toss with olive oil, Parmesan, lemon zest: Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon zest.
Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.
Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure they are of the highest quality.