We have a new favorite way to cook and eat asparagus. We love those tiny, thinner-than-pencil-thin asparagus spears, and yet when we sauté them we often find we misjudge the timing and they get mushy. We like crisp, tender spears, with just enough of a snap and yet not crunchy raw.
The easiest way to get this texture is to blanch them, and this is also so quick. Method below...
Don't try this with really thick spears - use the thinnest, freshest ones you can find.
Put a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Wash the asparagus spears. Trim the dried or hard ends off the bottom of the spears and lay them in a thin layer in a glass baking dish.
When the water comes to a boil, pour over the spears and let them sit for 3-5 minutes. Pull out a spear and test it after a couple minutes - it's easy to check for your preferred texture. When they are crisp-tender pour off the water and salt lightly.
Serve with melted butter or a vegetable dip. And if Julia Child herself gives permission to eat these with your fingers, who are we to argue?
(Image credit: David Eppstein)