Asparagus, harbinger (note to self: run spell-check) of spring, how I love thee. Well actually I only really love thee when thee are cooked right, not when thee are an over-boiled, limp and faded green spear.
There was a bumper crop of asparagus in these parts this year. Plenty of sales at the supermarket, gardeners giving bags of it away left and right. I’m always more than happy to help out and grab what I can carry whenever someone says “free asparagus”. I picked up a bunch of what looks to be the last crop of spring asparagus at the market last week. The spears were a little thin, but I’m not complaining. I just shortened the cooking time.
My absolute all-time favoritest way to cook asparagus is to roast the whole spears in the oven, with some olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and pepper.
Sprinkle some kosher salt on the hot spears straight out of the oven and you get asparagus magic. Tender-crisp, lightly caramelized and salty-sweet, green goodness; this is hands down the tastiest veggie you can put on your plate in the spring. I cut it up into bite sized pieces for the kids who eat it like veggie candy with their fingers.
Oven Roasted Asparagus
1 lb asparagus
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp garlic, crushed and finely minced
¼ tsp freshly grated pepper
Kosher salt for sprinkling.
Pre-heat the oven to 425°F. Clean the asparagus by placing it in a flat container (like a baking dish) filled with cold water and dunking it repeatedly. This is especially important for the home-grown crop, since they may not be cleaned as thoroughly as store bought.
Snap off the bottom ends of the spears. They will naturally break just above the toughest part of the stem.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and pepper. Lay the asparagus out on a baking sheet and pour the olive oil mixture over the spears. Roll the asparagus around in the mixture to coat them. Once coated, space out the spears so that they are not too close together. If they are all bunched up, the asparagus will steam, not roast. Cook in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned in spots. Remove from the oven and sprinkled with kosher salt.
~A coarse kosher salt works best for this; not too fine and not too coarse. I use Morton’s. If you have a nice flaky sea salt, you can use that too.
~It’s easy to overcook your asparagus. It should be tender but not mushy, have a bit of a bite to it, but not crunchy. The only reliable way I have found to test for doneness is to grab one out of the oven and eat it.