Fill a large bowl with water and ice. In a large saucepan or stockpot, bring 1 inch water and 1 teaspoon salt to boil. Add asparagus, cover, and boil until bright green and crisp-tender, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Immediately remove from boiling water and plunge into ice bath to stop the cooking. When completely cool, drain well and pat dry.
Trimming: To trim the tough, fibrous portion of each spear, you can cut it with a knife or bend it until it snaps. The asparagus will break precisely where the tender part ends and the tough part begins.
Buying: Look for straight, sturdy spears that are bright green with a purple hue at the tip. If the tips of the spears start to open, darken or appear slimy, skip it. Check the bottom of the bunch to see if the stalks are wrinkled, completely dried out, or too woody. Last, consider your recipe with regard to spear-size. For example, thin spears are great in asparagus salad while thicker spears are great for asparagus wrapped in prosciutto.
Storing: Trim off the ends with a sharp knife and place the bunch upright in an inch or so of cold water inside the refrigerator until you need it. A square-bottomed mug or ramekin works great for this.
Yield: This recipe makes 4 servings (1 cup blanched asparagus each). 1 pound asparagus yields about 2 cups chopped asparagus.
Storage: Store leftovers covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Freezer: Arrange drained asparagus in a single layer on a sheet pan lined with parchment or waxed paper and put it in the freezer. Once the asparagus is frozen, transfer it to a zipper-top bag and freeze up to 9 months. Remove and reheat any portion size, or thaw the whole bag overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. Peeling: If the skin seems thick and tough, use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel the stalk to within about 2 inches of the tip.
Expired: Asparagus tips are the most tender part of the vegetable and always the first to go bad. If the tips start to change to a very dark green color and fall apart easily between your fingers, it’s time to toss.