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Very Basic Skillet Asparagus with Herbs

(recipe, Deborah Madison)

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You don’t need a fancy asparagus steamer to cook asparagus — a skillet will do just fine. Be sure to peel the stalks of thick asparagus; it will be much more tender and will turn a beautiful translucent green. Celebrate asparagus with a good drizzle of your finest extra-virgin olive oil or sweet butter, and toss with fresh herbs such as tarragon or chervil.


  1. 2 lb. asparagus, trimmed, thick stalks peeled
  2. Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  3. Extra-virgin olive oil or unsalted butter, to taste
  4. Finely chopped tarragon or chervil
  5. Snipped chives


  1. Put the asparagus in a large skillet of cold water, bring to a boil, add salt and simmer uncovered until just tender when pierced with a knife, 7 to 10 minutes depending on size. Don't wait for a stalk to hang limply when you pick it out of the water for it will continue to cook.
  2. Put the cooked asparagus on a clean dish towel to drain for a minute, then transfer to a large platter. Dot with butter or drizzle with olive oil, season with freshly ground pepper, and scatter over the herbs. Roll the stalks gently around to coat them, then wipe the edges of the platter and serve.


Be sure to read Deborah Madison's article on cooking with local and seasonal produce.