Steamed Asparagus with Butter and Lemon

summary: steamed asparagus with butter and lemon; how to trim asparagus; other ideas for what to do with asparagus (click on image to see larger views and more photos)

asparagus What is it about asparagus?

Of course, one can get asparagus year round. But do we really want asparagus from Peru? (Well, maybe if we were in Peru, we would.)

Personally, I like to wait for locally grown asparagus. It just tastes better. There’s something so satisfying about eating seasonally, don’t you think?

Last week, we could get 2 big bunches of Ontario asparagus for $4.00 from our favourite vegetable store. This weekend, they were selling 2 bunches for $3.00. How could we not buy asparagus??

We had it the other night drizzled with butter and lemon juice. With mashed potatoes and pork au vin (made like coq au vin but using pork shoulder, red wine and two kinds of mushrooms). A garnish of three different kinds of thyme was the finishing touch.


I love it when the asparagus stalks are thin thin thin. And grass green and firm with tight little hats. There’s something so pleasing about asparagus standing at attention in a little tray of water.

To make sure we wouldn’t have to eat any thready or tough asparagus, we used to bend each asparagus stalk and allow it to break at its natural point, theorizing that this is where the tender part starts. (Both our mothers taught each of us to do this when we were growing up.) But because of the way the asparagus is pre-trimmed at the vegetable store, there’s a LOT of waste that way. trimming asparagus We learned the following method from watching Laura Calder’s TV show “French Cooking at Home”: Use a very sharp knife and hit from above to find where the asparagus is no longer tough.

Trimming Asparagus
with many thanks to Laura Calder

* To trim the asparagus, rather than breaking it in half, use a sharp knife to cut away the tough part of the asparagus. Starting at the blunt end of the asparagus spear, gently tap against the spear with the sharp part of the blade until the knife wants to cut through. I hope that made sense!! (We are forever indebted to Laura Calder because now we get to eat more of the asparagus that we buy.)

Hmmm, how shall we serve the asparagus tomorrow night?

In The Paris Cookbook, Patricia Wells suggests making asparagus velouté out of the bottom halves of asparagus stalks, leeks, olive oil, chicken stock and seasalt. She serves the velouté in espresso cups as an appetizer. We tried this a couple of years ago and while it was quite good, it wasn’t something that we rushed to make again. Until this year, whenever we have asparagus, the bottoms have been relegated to the composter.

However, now that we have a juicer and a Resident Maniac who thinks any vegetable in the juicer is wonderful, it is only asparagus pulp that is going into the composter. Yes, the RM has been drinking asparagus juice. :lalala:


edit: Ha! Great minds think alike! Katie (Thyme for Cooking) posted asparagus recipes storage and preparation this weekend! Her recipe for tarragon yoghurt sauce with chives sounds wonderful. And now that summer is here and the garden is growing, we have fresh tarragon and chives… is it time for dinner yet? :-)

This entry was posted in equipment and techniques, food & drink, vegetables on by .

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2 responses to “Steamed Asparagus with Butter and Lemon

  1. Larry

    Jealous! Yes I am. I love Asparagus… especially thin, thin, thin. We are now getting local grown here in NY. Have you ever tried them with a balsamic vinegar reduction? Great with beef. Thank You.

    edit: I haven’t tired asparagus with a balsamic vinegar reduction, Larry. Sounds good though! Thanks for the suggestion. -Elizabeth

  2. katie

    The knife method is what I use for the fat, fat, white asparagus. For some reason, white asparagus is very brittle and if one is not careful, one ends up with pieces….. This one knows from experience. Happy Asparagus Season!


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