I love this delicate vegetable and spring is the time of year to buy it. This is one of those times when bigger is not better. Look for thin stalks as the thicker it becomes the more woody those stalks are when eaten. You want it flexible but if it flops over when you hold it up, it is old. The head should be closed and should not be cut off and tossed. it is the best part of the whole vegetable. Once you have a bunch selected, it is time to gently cook it.
1 lb Asparagus
1 to 2 tsp Oil
Parchment Paper or Tin Foil 18 inches long
Wash the asparagus and cut off the bottom. You want to get rid of the dry, rough bits on the end.
Rip off a large piece of parchment paper or foil and lay it on the counter. You want to spread the asparagus out so that it is no more than 2 pieces deep. The edges of the foil will be folded up so you need to leave yourself plenty of room. Lay the vegetable on the foil and drizzle enough oil to lightly coat. Personally, I prefer to use olive oil for this, but any lightly flavored oil will do. Season with salt and pepper and seal up the packet.
With the asparagus laying flat on the foil, hold the ends up together. Fold them over and over until you reach the asparagus. Fold the ends over as well. You want a tight seal so that the steam stays inside the packet and cooks the asparagus.
Place the packet on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes. If you are already using the oven for something else and the temperature is lower, that works fine you just need to increase the time by 5 to 10 minutes.You can feel the bottom ends of the asparagus through the foil and see if it feels tender. Do not open the packets it will let all the steam out. Thicker stalks will take more time to cook. Keep the asparagus wrapped in the foil till you are ready to serve as they do cool down quickly.
Perfectly cooked asparagus that did not boil or steam away all its delicate flavor. Plus you can prepare the packet early in the day and toss it in the oven at the last-minute. If cooking a lot, I do recommend making several packets rather than trying to bake 3 pounds in one.
These can also be baked on your grill. Make sure you use heavy duty aluminum foil and don’t leave over a direct flame. Let me know how it goes and happy cooking!