‘Blanching’ is dropping vegetables into salted boiling water for a short period of time then immediately putting them into cold water. The purpose is to enhance and lock in their natural color. In addition to locking in the brighter color, blanching will also help seal in the flavor and nutrients of vegetables. Blanching is a form of pre-cooking that freezes vegetables in time, reducing quality loss, including vitamin degradation, holding them for days. It also saves time when you are making a meal where you are going to sauté, grill or bake them.
Blanched Bright Asparagus
- salt and pepper
Heat a large pot of water, adding 1 teaspoon salt per 2 1/2 quarts water.
Snap of the ends of the asparagus.
Drop the asparagus in the boiling water. Do this in batches so the water stays boiling or comes back to a boil faster, and to make the step of immediately stopping the cooking with cold water work better. Let 1/4″ wide asparagus boil 3 minutes, 1/2″ wide for 5 minutes and longer for larger spears. Pull one out to test it to see if it’s done. They should be crisp tender with no chewy skin.
Transfer them to a colander and immediately run under cold water, or place in ice water for a brighter color. Then place them in a small casserole.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dot with butter and cover with waxed paper and seal with foil. At this point they can be put in the refrigerator to be cooked later.
Bring to room temperature. With the foil still on, heat in a 350° oven for 10 to 12 minutes or just until hot and butter has melted. No longer or it will lose the bright color and crisp tenderness.