Q. I am looking for new and healthier ways to cook certain vegetables. I have always pan fried asparagus after giving it a quick blanch in boiling water but when I pan fry it, I use lashings of butter. It tastes amazing but I’m aware that I need to cut back on some of the saturated fats in my diet as I am not getting any younger or slimmer! I know asparagus can be steamed over the stove but wondered if I can achieve the same effect in the microwave. Should I place it in a bowl of water or just put it straight in? I haven’t experimented as asparagus isn’t cheap to buy where I live and it would be too sad if I ruined it, it’s my favourite vegetable. Can you microwave asparagus?
A. Yes, asparagus can be cooked in the microwave. It cooks quickly and is easy to prepare. Asparagus stalks can be quite tough so wash the bunch under cold running water and trim the bottom third of the stalk away. Since it comes in different lengths there is a quick way to know where to cut it. Take one spear and bend it until it snaps. It will usually snap at the point where it changes from tough to tender. Then you can use the broken spear as a guide for trimming the rest.
Trim away the bottom 1/3 of the stalk. The tip of the asparagus is very tender, but the farther down you go on the stalk, the tougher it gets.
If you bend the asparagus it will naturally snap at the point where it goes from tender to tough (which is usually about 1/3 of the stalk).
Next, lay the asparagus in a long dish and add one tablespoon of water. The spears can be two or three deep so you should fit it all in without issue. Cover the dish with a microwavable plastic wrap and pierce one small hole in it to allow some of the steam to escape.
Cook the asparagus for around 2 ½ minutes and allow it to rest in the microwave for a further 20 seconds. This cooks it a little longer and makes it easier to remove the plastic wrap without scalding yourself on the steam. Do remove the covering with care though, just in case.
If you are on a health kick, consider adding asparagus to cold salads or with a healthy dip. To serve it cold, plunge it into cold water immediately to stop it overcooking and losing its bright green color.