(from Vegetable Love, page 533)
I generally cook asaparagus in a microwave oven—fast
and impeccable. Alternatively, I tie them with white string into even
bunches and boil them, uncovered, in lots of salted water until the
point of a knife just slips into the fat end. Pick them up by the
strings, move them onto a cloth-lined plate and cut the strings. Remove
from the cloth when completely drained.
This method of preparation is perfect for Asparagus with Ham and Vinaigrette (page 157) and Asparagus with Poached Egg and Browned Butter (page 158).
Green and Purple Asparagus, Whole spears:
Tie prepared asparagus into even bunches. Drop into boiling salted water. Cook 3 to 8 minutes, depending upon thickness, or until the point of a knife just slips into a fat end. Pick up by the strings; cut strings.
White Asparagus, Whole spears:
Drop prepared asparagus, tied in bunches, into a large pot of boiling water. Cook for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to a low boil. Cook another 10 minutes, or until asparagus are very tender. Rinse under cold water if serving colr or in a salad.
Jumbo White Asparagus, Whole spears (1 inch thick):
Cook 20 minutes at a rolling boil, then 10 minutes at a low boil. Rinse under cold running water if serving with an enriched vinaigrette. Traditionally, white asparagus are served in linen napkins to absorb the liquid they continue to give off as they sit.