For years, I always cooked asparagus the same way – steamed in a covered saute pan with a little water. It is delicious that way, very simple and pure tasting.
But then I tried roasting it, and I haven’t looked back. It’s utterly simple and frees up space on the stovetop (which is always at a premium in my kitchen). Most importantly, roasted asparagus is incredibly delicious. The dry heat concentrates the flavor and sweetness of the spears. The texture of the skin – a little oily, slightly shrunken and wrinkled from the dehydrating effect of the oven – just begs you to pick it up and bite. Each spear is salty and crisp, slick and juicy. I used to serve asparagus with a shortcut aioli (good jarred mayonnaise with lemon and garlic), but this way it needs nothing but its beautiful self.
The timing in this recipe is necessarily vague. Thin spears take less time, thick ones more. (Contrary to what some cookbook authors will tell you, neither size is inherently better.) You may like them more tender or more crisp.
Also, asparagus roasted on the grill is fantastic. Prepare as directed, but instead of placing in the oven, remove from the baking sheet and place directly on a hot grill rack. This method is usually a little faster than the oven.
At the market, the freshest asparagus has tightly furled tips. Avoid asparagus with slimy tips.
1 bunch asparagus, rinsed
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
coarse salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
wedge of lemon for serving, optional
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Hold each asparagus stalk in two hands and snap off the tough end where it naturally breaks. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Shake pan so the seasonings coat all the asparagus spears. Place in the oven and roast for 12 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of the asparagus and your tenderness preference. Garnish with a wedge of lemon if desired.
Eat piping hot or at room temperature – with your fingers, if you like!
Follow Unfussy Epicure on Facebook!