Martha Stewart's Tip for Making Tough Asparagus Stems Tender Works Every Time
After a looong winter, it's almost prime time for spring produce. With her super-green thumb and recipe prowess, it's no wonder Martha Stewart has a tip or two about one of our spring recipe MVPs: Asparagus!
Related: How to Cook Asparagus
When Stewart first started a vegetable garden at her Westport, Connecticut home, she planted berries, rhubarb and asparagus, she reveals in the April 2021 issue of our sister publication Martha Stewart Living. Within two or three years, they were growing so well, "I was convinced that every garden, large or small, should make room for these wonderful plants. Today, my asparagus garden in Bedford is quite large and very productive. Four long rows start sprouting green and purple stalks in April, and continue through most of May," she says.
With an overflowing crisper drawer of fresh asparagus, Stewart has ample practice with a wide variety of asparagus recipes. So what has she learned along the way? You get the best results with veggies that are "impeccably fresh," of course, and it's best to cook only until tender from end to end. (Cutting each spear to the same length can help with this when you're whipping up a big batch, she advises.)
The best asparagus hack of all, however, requires just one additional tool and about 60 seconds per bunch.
"If the stems are more than ⅝-inch thick, pare off two to three inches of the bottom skin with a vegetable peeler," she says. (Stewart designed this Straight Peeler; $20, macys.com to make the job quick and easy.) "The asparagus will be as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat."
Take a peek at the thicker end of each piece of asparagus. If it's looking noticeably thicker than your index fingerprint, shave down the sides of the spear all the way around to thin it down a bit. But before you toss those shavings, get this: Stewart suggests saving them or any trimmed stalk pieces for soups. Something like this Vegetable Stock with Kitchen Scraps would be perfect for the antioxidant-rich, naturally diuretic veggie. (ICYMI, here are 5 powerful health benefits of asparagus that might surprise you!)
Then put the asparagus spears themselves to use in something like our 5-star Garlic-Parmesan Asparagus or Asparagus and Smoked Mozzarella Pizzettes. Or follow Stewart's lead—she sometimes "just eats a giant mound of the fat green spears with Hollandaise for dinner." We're not mad about that plan, although we'd probably put an egg on it and add a slice of whole-wheat bread. Yum!