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Sous vide sides: Perfect asparagus with tomato-basil vinaigrette

Cooking asparagus sous vide takes away the guesswork.
Image: Perfect Asparagus with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette
Perfect Asparagus with Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette.Steve Klise / America's Test Kitchen

Properly cooking tender spring vegetables like asparagus is challenging. Divert your attention for just a few seconds and those babies go from perfectly green and snap-tender to Hulk-green and floppy. Cooking asparagus sous vide takes away the guesswork. At 180°F/82°C, we found that the spears softened just enough while still keeping their snap. They remained bright green, and, because the spears were sealed in a bag while cooking, they retained all of their delicate, vegetal flavor (no evaporation here!). We serve our asparagus with a simple tomato and basil vinaigrette, but feel free to pair your asparagus with any vinaigrette or bright sauce of your choosing. This recipe works best with thick asparagus spears that are between ½ and ¾ inch in diameter. Do not use pencil-thin asparagus; it overcooks too easily. Be sure to double bag the asparagus to protect against seam failure. Asparagus have a tendency to float when placed in a sous vide water bath, which can lead to uneven cooking. Use weights to make sure the asparagus are fully immersed during cooking.

Serves: 4 to 6

Sous Vide Temperature: 180°F/82°C

Sous Vide Time: 20 minutes

  • 2 pounds (900 grams) thick asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 tomato, cored, seeded, and chopped fine (about ½ cup/113 grams)
  • 1 shallot (25 grams), minced
  • 1½ tablespoons (22 grams) lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon (1 gram) chopped fresh basil
  • 3 tablespoons (42 grams) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Using sous vide circulator, bring water to 180°F/82°C in 7-quart container.
  2. Arrange asparagus in single layer in 1-gallon zipper-lock freezer bag and seal bag, pressing out as much air as possible. Place bag in second 1-gallon zipper-lock freezer bag and seal. Gently lower bag into prepared water bath, weight bag (see page 14) until asparagus is fully submerged, and then clip top corner of bag to side of water bath container, allowing remaining air bubbles to rise to top of bag. Reopen 1 corner of zipper, release remaining air bubbles, and reseal bag. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  3. Whisk tomato, shallot, lemon juice, basil, oil, and ¼ teaspoon (1.5 grams) salt in bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer asparagus to serving platter and drizzle with vinaigrette. Serve.