I have tried all methods of preparing asparagus to ensure even cooking dicing the stalks, tying them together with a string and cooking them upright, cutting a cross in the stalks to encourage quicker cooking, etc., and none of them has ever been satisfactory to me; the bottom half of the asparagus still remains slightly tough. The one foolproof method to ensure tender, evenly cooked asparagus is to peel the bottom half of each one with a paring knife not a vegetable peeler. Although you do lose some nutrients by peeling away that top layer, you gain by being able to use almost the whole asparagus.

SERVES 4

1 pound asparagus

VINAIGRETTE

в…“ cup olive oil

1ВЅ tablespoons red wine vinegar

2 cloves garlic, minced

ВЅ teaspoon Dijon mustard

Вј teaspoon salt

Liberal seasoning freshly ground pepper

1 hard-boiled egg yolk, minced

  1. Cut off only the very tough bottoms on the asparagus, and with a sharp paring knife carefully peel the bottom half of each one. Bring about 1 inch of water to a boil in a large skillet, lay the asparagus in the water, and cover the pan. Cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, or until tender but not mushy. (They will continue to cook a little more while cooling.) Drain very well and arrange on a large serving platter or on individual serving dishes.
  2. To make the vinaigrette combine all of the dressing ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. Pour over the asparagus and refrigerate, uncovered, until chilled.
  3. When ready to serve, roll the asparagus spears around in the dressing to coat them, then sprinkle the egg yolk over them in a horizontal strip. Serve cool or at room temperature not cold.