how to cook asparagus | The Enduring Gardener

How to cook asparagus

© Daniel Carruthers

I’m not entirely sure at what point a set of directions can be called a recipe so let’s stick with ‘how to cook asparagus’. If you are lucky enough to grow your own asparagus then you are at an immediate advantage. I usually leave the pan to heat up for a minute or two and use this time to go and pick some asparagus spears. Be warned not to try this if you are easily distracted. Pans can get very hot whilst you pull out weeds and water those dry looking plants.

So here’s how I like to cook asparagus.


Asparagus (the fresher the better)
Olive oil
Half a Lemon
Sea Salt & freshly ground pepper

Place a heavy bottomed pan (preferably a griddle) on a high heat. You can choose whether to brush the asparagus spears in olive oil or add it to the pan. I generally brush them as it uses less oil. When I am cooking with olive oil I never use extra virgin as the heat alters the properties and taste of the oil. Extra virgin olive oil is reserved for salads, dressings or bread. The pan should be hot enough so the asparagus sizzles when added. Cook for approximately 5 minutes occasionally tossing the asparagus. It should be allowed to to brown slightly along an edge or two in order that it remain tender but the edges will be lightly caramelised. After 5 minutes and with the pan still hot squeeze half a fresh lemon over the top of the asparagus. Add a generous pinch of coarse sea salt (Maldon is the best) and some freshly ground pepper. Toss the asparagus in the pan so that the seasoning and lemon juice infuse with the asparagus and serve.

Lightly caramelised and home grown asparagus with sea-salt and freshly squeezed lemon, done !

The asparagus can be enjoyed on it’s own or as an accompaniment. You can also cook asparagus on the BBQ in the same way.

caramelised asparagus smoking on the bbq


Asparagus Helps Lower Blood Pressure (At Least In Rats)

In a recent study, rats that munched on asparagus saw their blood pressure drop.Enlarge image

In a recent study, rats that munched on asparagus saw their blood pressure drop.

Here’s another reason to eat asparagus, in case you were looking for one.

Researchers at the Kagawa Nutrition University in Japan fed a diet consisting of 5 percent asparagus to rats with high blood pressure. As they report in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, published online on May 30, after 10 weeks, the rats on the asparagus diet had lower blood pressure than the ones fed a standard rat diet without asparagus.

The rats on the asparagus diet also had less protein in their urine, a sign of a healthier kidney. And they had less activity of ACE, or angiotensin-converting enzyme. Drugs that reduce the activity of ACE are used to treat hypertension in humans.

The Japanese researchers think a compound found in asparagus called 2″-hydroxynicotianamine is responsible for inhibiting ACE activity in the rats. There’s not a lot of literature on hydroxynicotianamine. It seems to be found in buckwheat sprouts, buckwheat leaves and buckwheat, where it also seems to be an ACE inhibitor.

Of course, it’s far too soon to known whether 2″-hydroxynicotianamine has a similar effect on humans. But if it does, perhaps this could open new vistas in the treatment of hypertension. In fact, for the treatment of high blood pressure, this could be the dawning of the age of asparagus.