There are many ways to successfully cook asparagus to eat as a vegetable accompaniment, steamed, boiled, grilled and baked. In all cases the spears should be prepared by rinsing off any soil and peeling off the outer skin, from just below the tips where the spears start to turn white. If steaming or boiling the cooking liquor makes a great stock for soups and sauces so don't pour it away.
Steaming - place the spears loosly in the steamer tray and cook for 10 mins until the thicker ends of the spear is tender but not soft. If you leave it too long the tips will go mushy
Boiling - you will need a deep saucepan or asparagus pan with 10 cm of boiling water in it. The spears should be tied together in a bundle and stood in the boiling water so that the tips cook in the steam. Do not submerge the tips as they will disintegrate. Cook for 10 to 15 mins.
Grilling or cooking on a BBQ - brush the stems with melted butter or oil and cook for 3-5 mins under a hot grill until they start to char. Turn the spears, brush with a little more butter or oil and cook for a further 2-3 mins. They are even better if you add a little crushed garlic to the fat.
Baking - place the spears in a greased baking dish, covered with foil. Heat the oven to 180C, gas mark 7 and cook for 25 - 30 mins or until tender. They taste even better if you add crushed garlic and/or a few finely chopped herbs such as parsley, sage or rosemary.
Fry - similar to grilling, you may want to chop the spears up, the thick white stalks will take longer than the green tips so add the tips half way through the cooking time.
Once you have sorted the basics you will soon be keen to take your cooking skills further. We have put together some of our favourite asparagus recipes for you so give them a go.