Steamed Asparagus
With Hollandaise Sauce

About mid-April I am always happy to see fresh asparagus appear in the supermarket produce section. I am also sad that it will only be there for the next two months. There is canned asparagus in the interim but it is just not the same. However you serve it, steamed with a squeeze of lemon juice, a dab of mayonnaise, or a pat of melted butter, or, as here, with a slathering of Hollandaise sauce, fresh steamed asparagus is an elegant vegetable dish for either a family sit-down dinner or more formal dining. Baking/Serving Ware by Ira Jon Burhans.
Preparation Time: 30 minutes Life experience recipe:
Serves  4 to 6 persons

  • 1 bunch fresh asparagus, about 1 pound
  • Juice of 1 lemon

  1. Wash asparagus spears under cold running water. Rinse well, there may be bits of field grit in the tips.
  2. Thinner spears may be tender over their length. Thicker spears may be coarse and woody near the base. Slice an inch of the root end of a thinner spear. The knife should cut with little resistance. Slice an inch off the root end of a thicker spear. There will be some resistance. Trim an inch off the bottom of the rest of the spears, setting aside spears that are more difficult to cut, like the larger example spear. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the fibrous husk of the larger, tougher spears exposing the tender flesh inside.
  3. If you have a dedicated, vertical asparagus steamer, follow the directions for that unit. For other steamers, arrange the asparagus spears loosely in the basket. Sprinkle with the juice of one lemon. Place the steamer basket over boiling water and cover.
  4. Some of us were raised where vegetables were boiled into soft, barely recognizable masses. Others were serve just heated through vegetables, sort of the vegetarian equivalent of the carnivore’s “knock the horns off and brand it” for a steak order. I suspect that most of us are a bit in between those two extremes. After about 5 minutes of steaming, the spears will turn a vivid green, be cooked through, hold their shape and still have a crisp bite. If you are going to serve the asparagus cold, like in salads, after the 5 minutes remove the spears from the steamer and plunge the spears into ice-water to help preserve the vivid color.
  5. An additional 5 minutes and the spears will be cooked through, be limber and have a soft texture to the bite. Most of us will probably like our asparagus cooked to this point. After another 5 minutes, 15 minutes in all, the texture will be very soft and the spears about ready to break apart when picked up. This may be your personal point of overcooked. I watch for the color change and, as the cook, I get to eat one of the spears just before the 10 minute mark to see how things are going.
  6. When cooked to your taste, remove from the steamer. Place in a pre-warmed serving bowl. Drizzle with a bit of Hollandaise sauce and serve the remainder of the Hollandaise sauce on the side.  

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