So, you want to know, how to steam asparagus in the microwave, you have landed on the right platform.
Microwave asparagus is one of those vegetable dishes that sounds exotic and is as easy as pie. The whole thing will take you less than 7 minutes to prepare! And that includes unwrapping the package from the store, washing and then preparing the asparagus spears.
And like a lot of microwave vegetable recipes, the actual cooking of the vegetables is not at all difficult. Infact, steaming asparagus in the microwave oven enables you to give yourself and your family an instant feast.
Microwave asparagus – but first, what is it?
Asparagus is a small semi-woody fern-like plant that will grow from 3′ to 5′ in height, depending on the type. In the summer, it produces small red berries that can be poisonous to human beings.
Mature bushes rapidly growing after harvesting stops
The woody stems die down right to ground level over the Winter and then shoot up again the following Spring. It is these young tender Spring shoots that we harvest for microwave asparagus.
In this respect, asparagus spears are similar to bamboo shoots. Bamboo is another woody plant whose shoots are harvested just as they push above the earth.
Field of young spears ready to be harvested.
Life of Asparagus
An asparagus plant has a life of about 20 years. The plant is not harvested for the first 2 or 3 years. This allows the root systems to get well established and produces a long-lived plant. The bushes are planted about 1′ apart in sandy, well-drained soil. Spears are cut when they are about 8″ or 9″ high and are cut just below ground level.
Young shoots ready to be cut in the Spring.
There are many types of asparagus available. The oldest and the most familiar is the green asparagus. There are other types in the stores, such as purple, crimson and even wild asparagus.
White asparagus is made covering up the young shoots with mounds of the earth so that light does not get to them and is said to be sweeter and more tender than other varieties.
The spears can be picked when they are small and thin, while other varieties produce thicker stems.
The most tender and best-flavoured plants are those you grow yourself, although a fair amount of self-discipline is required to leave them alone for the first 2 or 3 years!
Microwave asparagus – where and when does it grow?
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the US is the World’s third greatest producer of asparagus behind China and Peru and the World’s number 1 importer.
The states of Michigan, Washington and California produce the most, with the season starting in mid-April and running through to mid-June. Shoots developing after this are allowed to grow into full-sized plants.
Growing conditions in Peru enable asparagus to be harvested whatever the season. As one of the World’s top exporters, there is now all year-round availability in the stores.
Microwave steam asparagus – how do you cook it?
First, you need to cut off any woody part of the spears. A good way to do this is to bend the lower part of the stalk until it snaps. The point at which it snaps is generally where the stalk changes from a soft green stalk to more woody growth.
Then wash the spears carefully to remove any grit or sand that has stuck to the plant.
If the stalk is thick, peel off the tougher outer skin so that the stalks end up the same thickness throughout. Thin spears can usually be cooked just as they are, but the thicker stalks are slightly more tender.
Then place them in a microwave-safe dish with one tablespoon of water. Use about 3 to 5 stalks per person. Add a little salt, and cover with a plate or loose microwave cling film.
Cook on High for two and a half minutes. Don’t get hung up about timings. If you have one of the most powerful microwaves on the market, then you’ll need to cook for less time.
But be sure to open the dish and test the asparagus spears. You want them to be tender but still firm.
Al dente, the Italians call it.
Overcooking leads to a soggy green unattractive mess, so be careful here.It is better to cook too little and add then another 15 seconds or so to get them just right.
When done, the traditional way to serve them is to place them on a dish, sprinkle with lemon juice and pepper, and then perhaps place a knob of butter on top.
Microwave asparagus – freezing your asparagus.
If you grow your asparagus, you can also blanch your asparagus in the microwave by cooking for 1 or 2 minutes and then immediately plunging them into iced water (or under a fast-running cold tap if no ice is available). The idea is to part cook the asparagus spears before drying them. They can then be put into a deep freeze for use later in the year.
Microwave steam asparagus – other variations
There are many other ways can eat microwave asparagus, including
- dressing the freshly cooked spears with mayonnaise
- Or dressing them with a traditional hollandaise sauce, made of egg yolks and butter, with a dash of lemon juice.
- Or using a French dressing, a mixture of 3 parts extra virgin oil to one part of wine vinegar, with a dash of mustard and garlic. This works well when the spears are covered with parmesan shavings and pepper added to taste.
- Cold blanched microwave asparagus spears are often used as ingredients in a green salad, together with lettuce, tomatoes and green peppers.
Health Benefits of Asparagus
Powerhouse of Antioxidants
During the process of oxidation in our body, unstable chemicals called free radicals get released. To neutralise the effect of these harmful chemicals antioxidants are required. Asparagus is a rich source of antioxidants including Vitamin A, C, and, K. It also contains flavonoids, catechins, and polyphenols that helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer. Etc.
Helps in Weight Loss
Asparagus is pretty low in calories that allows you to consume it in large quantities also. The best part about asparagus is that it contains a range of useful substances. These substances not only contribute to weight loss rather provide a protective shield to the body.
Enhances Digestive Function
Dietary fiber plays an essential role in improving the digestion process in our body. Asparagus is a storehouse of insoluble fiber that helps in regular bowel movement and thus enhances digestive health.
Cook on high for about two and a half minutes. But be careful it should be crispy from outside and tender inside.
Asparagus is the powerhouse of nutrients. It contains fiber, vitamins A, C, and K and is also enriched with folate. So, in nutshell asparagus is beneficial for our body in whichever form it is consumed.
Grit or sand may stick to the plant that would spoil the taste of asparagus. To get rid of this grittiness, you must soak asparagus in cold water or wash it thoroughly.
You can easily store asparagus for 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.
Now you must have known, “How to steam asparagus in the microwave?” So, next time you are in your local stores, buy some asparagus spears and a lemon. Apart from the fact that it is easy to cook, asparagus serves you with lots of health benefits.
Treat yourself to a meal of microwave asparagus! It is easy to make and makes an elegant accompaniment to grilled fish or lightly cooked meats.
Also Read: Microwave Oven Inbuilt