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Question about asparagus...

While preparing the spears for cooking, most recipes say that you should bend the spear until it snaps and then discard the bottom end, but that seems like such a waste. What if I peel the asparagus(from below the tip to the end) and then slice off an inch or so of the end, would that work?


ps. And, how do you like your asparagus?

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  1. Look for the point on the stalk where the dark green color begins and cut there.
    (I like my asparagus roasted with olive oil and S&P.)

    1. nice fresh asparagus doesn't need to be peeled - I don't bother. I do use the bend it till it snaps trick -- it's not a waste if you keep a plastic tub with snap on lid in your freezer -- just chuck it and any other veggie scraps like broccoli stems in it. Use the scraps for soup stock sometime later. Same with shrimp shells, but have a separate tub from the veggies!

      1. I slice off the whitish ends and peel; I do think it saves a bit more of the stalk. I love them grilled or roasted, and I love them with eggs, either baked with the eggs or lightly sauteed, cut into lengths, and added to scrambled eggs. I like them lightly steamed, as a crudite with garlicky or sesame mayo. And I like to make a very easy tart, using a sheet of frozen puff pastry, pricked and sprinkled with parmesan, then spread with a layer of grated gruyere mixed with creme fraiche (or sour cream), and topped with asparagus spears (sliced in half legthwise if they're thick) and baked. (Turn it into a breakfast dish by cracking an egg or two on top and baking until they're set.)

        1. The first time I used the "snap-and-discard" trick on asparagus in front of the future Khantessa she almost put a shiv in my back. Now she uses that trick as well.

          1. I cut off the really tough part at the very end, the whitish part, and then peel only the bottom couple inces. I used to do the bend thing, but you do lose about one bite per stalk or close to it and it adds up. Plus, I don't really think everybody who says they save the ends for soup really does that. I make soup and I know I don't .

            2 Replies
            1. re: John E.

              Well, I tried it once, but those woody, white ends didn't make very good soup.

              1. re: John E.

                I do the same thing now. Especially when I think of the times I'm craving it and asparagus is $4.99 to $5.99 a pound-the less waste the better.

              2. IME, the bend/snap procedure can be wasteful. The last time I made asparagus, the stalks were pencil-thin. I forgot to cut the ends before putting them in the steamer. When done, almost all of them were edible in their entirety. Thicker, whiter bottoms do need trimming.

                1. I just cut the ends off, but the wife does the bend and snap, which I've used the last couple of times. I just watched a Jacques Peppin show on PBS last week and he did some asparagus and peeled it. Said he would never expect a restaurant to do it, but he does it all the time at home.

                  I prefer mine either baked or cooked on the grill.

                  1. Indeed it's case-by-case. These days good, fresh young asparagus of just the right size is plentiful, so a minimum of trimming's necessary.

                    When I get large, mature stalks, I peel 'em. It's really elegant and you get more net weight than if you just throw out the whole bottom part. I will concede that some of the whitest end-part does have to be lopped off because it's just too fibrous.

                    When we were young, my grandmother would chop up the spears, white and all, without peeling, and boil it until it was -- eek -- soft as pudding! Talk about a fibrous/mushy mess...

                    1. As several have said, I only trim the thicker whitish ends. And I've never peeled an asparagus stalk. (Recently I have been enjoying such nice fresh asaragus.)

                      My go-to method these days is 350 for 10 minutes (after tossing in olive oil, salt and pepper).

                      1. If you have a compost bin and a garden, vegetable waste is never really wasted! I just snap the bottoms off and throw them in the compost....but i have this weird love affair thing with my compost. :)

                        I put my asparagus on a piece of tinfoil, drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt, wrap up and bbq for just a few minutes.
                        Or you could wrap them in prosciutto and 4 layers of buttered phyllo dough, bake for 10 minutes and serve with a red pepper dip, or better yet, artichoke dip!

                          1. I love asparagus...could eat it everyday when it's in season...I'm a fan of "fat" aspargus...don't like the pencil thin ones...I cut off the bottom of the stalks and then use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom few inches of each stalk. I mostly roast it these days...seems to intensify the flavour.

                            1. I like to sprinkle my asparagus with parmesan cheese after a quick sautee in butter.

                              1. Call me old-fashioned. I still like cooking it in a tall sauce-pot, covered, tied by the bunch and standing up in the boiling water, so the bottoms get softer but the tops steam and stay nutty-crispy-tender. Then I cover them with beurre blanc or, if I have the time and patience, Bearnaise sauce.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: shaogo

                                  i have one of those pots and need to pull it out and use it!

                                2. Bend and snap for me, with stalks that are relatively thick. And I have yet to have asparagus prepared in a way I did not like. Altho shaogo's grandmother's method doesn't sound so appetizing...!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: ricepad

                                    I don't ever recall having fresh asparagus as a child, but we always had the canned stuff. Drained and then vinegar put on it. Talk about soggy.

                                    1. re: roro1831

                                      Well, I'm lucky...I grew up (and still live) in the heart of asparagus country (San Joaquin Delta in California's Central Valley), so we have tons of fresh 'gras.

                                  2. When I'm in a hurry, which is often, I just line up the bottoms and whack off the woody bases in one fell swoop with a big chef's knife or santoku. Then I give them all a once over to ensure no more woodiness remains. I always peel the bottom two-thirds of all but the skinniest. I roast at 425 degrees for seven minutes (give or take a couple of minutes for particularly fat or skinny bunches), in butter or olive oil, depending on my mood and whether the rest of dinner calls for a lighter or richer side dish. Sometimes I finish with a little Parmesan or fresh herb (mint or tarragon) or add super-thin slices of garlic at the beginning. And shaved ham can be nice. A little lemon or nice vinegar is of course classic. Oh, and freshly ground white pepper can be a very nice alternative to black pepper.

                                    1. I just cut off the tough bottoms with a knife and add those to my veggie scraps in the freezer for stock. I like them roasted & grilled.

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: Cherylptw

                                        glad to hear someone else saves the bits for stock. I was beginning to think I was the only one... amazing how "green" our modern society is (sarcasm). I guess we are a "pampers" society" -- throw it all away if it isn't "perfect".

                                        1. re: JRCann

                                          If I spend my money on a product I'll do with it exactly as I see fit and not lose a moment's sleep worrying what the waffen green battalions think.

                                          1. re: JRCann

                                            For veggie stock, those ends may be ok, but I can tell you, when I made soup from a bunch of woody ends, it was all but inedible.

                                            1. re: JRCann

                                              i think choosing to use the woody ends is more an economical choice than an ecological one. The bits will decompose and GIVE BACK to the earth, so it no more green to use them than it is to toss them in the compost heap.
                                              Certainly using the bits for veggie stock is a good economical choice. But i don't think we need to turn it into a moral issue!

                                          2. I bend and snap, but will admit to taking a bite from the snapped off spears while cooking dinner. Usually, it's not woody until the second bite. So, by all means, use your judgement and cut if you prefer. Just don't serve the woody whitish part as I was once on Mother's Day brunch in a restaurant., which I consider abject ignorance on the part of the kitchen. Truly unpleasant.

                                            1. Pealing the last part of the asparagus spear (from below the "breaking" point to the end) is the way many professional chefs prepare it. It's not only classy looking, it's practical. I first cut 1/4" off the very bottom, then to find the breaking point, I snap one of the spears from the bunch I'm preparing and use that as a guide to where to start pealing. Arranged on a platter, they are always an attention getter. For a change, after cooking, marinate the spears in a garlic/vinegar dressing for a short time and serve them cold & crisp for even more compliments!