Despite all the ways we love to prepare fresh spring asparagus, microwave steaming might be the very best. You've got to trust me here, because microwave steaming eliminates the need to boil water, takes just a few minutes, and makes perfectly tender asparagus spears without turning on the oven.
Let me alleviate any further doubts on this method by noting that I learned this asparagus steaming trick from Alton Brown — so now you've got to try it, right?
Microwave Asparagus Is Fast Feasting
Let's say you bring home a bunch of asparagus from the market and you really want to enjoy their sweet, grassy flavor and snappy texture right this moment. Microwave-steamed asparagus is the fastest route from farmers market to feasting.
The Best Asparagus for Microwave Steaming
You can steam any green or purple asparagus varieties in the microwave, but note that thicker stems will take longer to cook and can cook less evenly. Medium and thin asparagus are the very best for microwave-steamed asparagus.
3 Keys to Microwave Steamed Asparagus
- Rinse and trim the asparagus before steaming. As with any other cooking method, steamed asparagus must be rinsed and trimmed before cooking.
- Make sure the paper towel is damp, not soaking. Wet four layers of paper towels with a quarter-cup of water and squeeze the paper towels to remove any excess water.
- Roll the asparagus into a bundle to microwave. Laid flat in the microwave, the asparagus will cook unevenly. The rolled bundle will cook more evenly.
- Use tongs to remove the bundle from the microwave. Seriously, it's going to be hot!
How to Serve Microwave Asparagus
I love microwaved steamed asparagus for eating simply dressed in butter or vinaigrette. Steamed asparagus is also marvelous for cold dishes like salads, terrines, or cold noodle bowls.
How To Steam Asparagus in the Microwave
What You Need
1 pound asparagus, preferably thin or medium thickness
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Measuring cups and spoons
- Trim the asparagus: Trim the bottom 1 to 1 1/2-inches of woody stem from the bottom of the asparagus. Rinse the asparagus.
- Dampen the paper towels: Dampen 4 large paper towels with 1/4 cup water. Wring out any excess and stack the paper towels on top of each other. Lay the asparagus on the paper towels in a single layer.
- Season the asparagus: Sprinkle the asparagus with the salt.
- Roll the paper towels around the asparagus: Roll the paper towels into a bundle with the asparagus. You should have a spiral of asparagus with paper towels in between.
- Microwave the asparagus: Place the bundle in the microwave and cook on high for 3 minutes. Check for doneness — the asparagus should be tender crisp. Microwave for 1 minute more on high if needed.
- Remove from the microwave using tongs: Using tongs, carefully remove the asparagus from the microwave.
- Serve: Dress the warm asparagus with a pat of butter or hollandaise sauce.
- Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.