Blanching is a technique to lightly cook vegetables, such as asparagus and green beans, while preserving their vivid color and crunch. It is also frequently used to peel delicate fruits like tomatoes or peaches. Use blanched asparagus in pasta or potato salad, tossed in a green salad, on top of a grain bowl, or piled on toast with a fried egg. Once you learn the method, the sky's the limit!
Snap the tough ends off each asparagus stalk. Cut the remaining tender tip into roughly 1 inch pieces.
Fill a medium sized saucepan with water and season with salt. Bring just barely to a boil. You are looking for small bubbles, not a rolling boil here.
Fill a large bowl with ice water and set aside.
Cook the asparagus in the boiling water for no more than 2 minutes, then drain and transfer immediately to the ice water to stop the cooking process. Once it is cold to the touch, place back in the strainer and drain completely before using.
Blanching is best suited to softer veggies, like beans, peas, and asparagus, and not things like carrots or butternut squash.
Cooking time definitely varies based on what vegetable you're making, but 5 minutes is about the longest you'll ever need.
If you're blanching an item to peel it, like boiler onions, tomatoes, or peaches, cut a shallow X into the bottom, opposite of the stem.