Let’s Cooking On Land: Asparagus

May 14th, 2007 by: cheyenne


Among our first HEB purchases, once I recovered my dignity after dorking out over the cheese products, were a bunch of asparagus and real parmesan cheese (pricey stuff too).

We have an alcohol stove on the Time Machine and it’s great in that it runs on unpressurized non-scary fuel and doesn’t go through a ton, and it is so easy to deal with that a medium sized crustacean could probably figure it out. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really get all that hot. Browning things has always been a problem. Boiling a large kettle of water takes half a day. Now that we are temporarily installed in a house with all the modern conveniences, we can cook things over an electric stove—and I LUUUVV cooking on red. The other night I converted thirty-minute’s worth of carefully slivered garlics into a smoking black crater in about thirteen seconds. The power.

We love asparagus and one of our favorite cooking methods is to pan sauté it. If you are of the conscientious persuasion, you might not burn the crap out of it and it will turn out beautifully.

Bundle asparagus, washed, ends trimmed, and chopped at an angle into 2-inch pieces.
Garlic. I love the stuff and use around half to a whole bulb. Cut into chunks (e.g., each clove into maybe three pieces).
Balsamic vinegar (maybe two tablespoons’ worth).
Red pepper flakes. The hot stuff.
Pepper. Freshly ground; I like black pepper the best.
Parmesan cheese.


Put a tablespoon or so of oil in a skillet over a mostly red burner, then add the garlic bits. Fry in the oil until they turn golden brown and are as done as you care them to be. It is difficult to flip the things; I use chopsticks. You are going for crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside. When ready, remove from the pan and set aside.

blackened garlic

[Hmm. Some of those are a little more done than I had anticipated. Do as I say not as I do: take yours off before they turn black and don’t waste time trying to get photos.]

Now add the asparagus and crank that burner to full red (you know, use your discretion). Saute for a while, stirring around so the asparagus cooks evenly; taste occasionally to get your preferred doneness (probably around ten minutes for me). When just done, turn the heat down to medium and add the balsamic vinegar, stirring so that it coats the asparagus and reduces away.

adding balsamic vinegar to asparagus

[Super action shot of balsamic addition. Nice and stir.]

Toss in a pinch of red pepper flakes and grind a bunch of pepper over the pan; add salt to taste and chuck the garlic back in as well. Mix around and kill the heat. Serve with fresh grated parmesan over the top.

adding pepper to asparagus

[More action photography. Can you believe that this stupid Safeway “disposable” pepper grinder is the best I’ve ever encountered? I’ve refilled it about a million times. Makes nice chunky pepper grinds, not that powdery shit I find so dissatisfying and takes forever to grind. Right after Joshua took the photo however, I inhaled a good snort of ground pepper from the steam and collapsed into a huge sneezing fit.]

Despite the overly cooked garlics (and, honestly, the asparagus could have been cooked with a lighter touch—I’m telling you though, taking cooking photos messes with your timing), the asparagus was awesome as usual and we snarfed it down before we could get any good pictures.

(By the way, this is the same way we cook green beans. Super excellent.)

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell