Asparagus take to the easiest kind of cooking. A few minutes in boiling water turns them tender with a little crispness still intact, then it's a case of how you want to flavor them.
This is a Spanish take — Sherry vinegar and furls of Manchego cheese with olive or walnut oil. If you'd like, you could warm smoky Spanish paprika in the oil for a kick.
Cook to Cook: Because asparagus overcook in a blink, I like to cook them spread out in a skillet of boiling water. This way I can pierce a stalk to see if it's tender crisp and get the stalks out of the water fast. Always slightly undercook asparagus because once they are drained (and even rinsed in cold water), they will continue cooking.
The recipe also explains how to handle a bundle of stalks that vary in size.
1-1/2 pounds asparagus, trimmed of tough stem ends and peeled if thicker than about 1/4 inch
Boiling, salted water
2 to 3 tablespoons good tasting extra-virgin olive oil, or walnut oil
Saltand fresh ground black pepper
About 2 tablespoons Spanish Sherry vinegar
3 ounces Manchego cheese
1. If the asparagus range from plump to slender they'll each cook at different rates. To guarantee even cooking for all, divide them into piles of the thickest stalks, the medium thick ones, and the thinnest. Have a 12-inch slant-sided skillet two-thirds full of boiling water. Add 2 tablespoons salt to the pan. Have a big bowl of ice water handy, too.
2. Slip in the thickest stalks. Boil, uncovered, for 1 minute and add the medium thick ones. Cook another 30 seconds or so, and add the thin stalks. Cook a minute or so, or until a knife slipped into the thickest stalks meets some resistance. With tongs, lift the asparagus into the ice water. Give them several minutes to stop cooking.
3. Spread the drained asparagus on a platter. Sprinkle with the olive oil, then salt and pepper, and the vinegar. Finally, use a vegetable peeler to shave the cheese over the stalks. Serve them at room temperature.
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