Is This the Best Way to Cook Asparagus?

To roast? To boil? To steam? We know we love these elegant, vitamin-rich green stalks, and we may even know what our favorite dressing is for them, but the best way to cook asparagus for the tastiest results has been up for debate…until now.

We recently found the answer, courtesy of Caroline Campion and Kathy Brennan, authors of our weeknight lifesaving cookbook, Keepers: Two Home Cooks Share Their Tried-and-True Weeknight Recipes and the Secrets to Happiness in the Kitchen. Campion and Brennan are also responsible for our recent favorite family-pleasing dinner, Asian pork sliders.

“This technique for cooking asparagus is based on one we discovered years ago in an issue of Cook’s Illustrated,” the authors said. “When we first read it, it didn’t sound right because it involved cooking the asparagus over high heat past the crisp-tender stage. But after trying it, we were sold. Any woodiness in the stalks disappears, the flesh becomes succulent, the flavors concentrated. It’s now our default asparagus-cooking mode.” For an extra flourish, drizzle a little balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice over the spears before serving.

Skillet Asparagus
Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound medium or large asparagus
Salt and pepper

-In a large skillet with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the asparagus in a single layer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes, gently agitating the pan a few times while holding down the lid.
-Uncover, turn the asparagus over, and season with salt and pepper. Cover again and cook, occasionally agitating the pan, until the asparagus are tender with some browned and crispy spots, 2 to 3 minutes more. Check the seasonings and serve.