Most recipes for asparagus have you break off and discard the tough or woody ends of the asparagus spears. And that's a quick and easy way to trim asparagus and make sure what ends up on your plate is pleasantly edible. With a tiny bit more effort, however, you can eat most of the stalk and have an elegant dish to boot.
You do, no matter how you prepare it, need to start with fresh asparagus. Look for firm spears with fresh-cut-looking ends and tight, compact heads. Eschew any mushy or wet-looking tips and avoid asparagus with cut-ends that look too dried out with cracks. Like most produce, you want asparagus that feels relatively heavy for its size.