This past week we have been eating a lot of asparagus. I love asparagus, not only because it tastes good, because asparagus means spring is here.
We’ve been having a strange spring, weather-wise. By this time, I’m looking forward to beautiful days of blue skies, temperatures in the mid 70s and colorful flowers busting out all over the place. Instead, the temperature has been fluctuating wildly from day to day, from the 80s one day to the 50s the next — but never that perfect 72 degrees I’ve been longing for. It’s been rainy, gray and windy, more like mid-March than mid-April. I’m missing our normal glorious spring, but maybe it will appear in another couple of weeks or so.
Regardless, the asparagus is here. My favorite way to eat asparagus is roasted, either in the oven or, even easier, pan-roasted. Roasting changes the flavor of asparagus dramatically, deepens it and brings out the earthiness of the vegetable. Roasted asparagus doesn’t need a lot of seasoning, just some olive oil, salt and pepper, maybe a little lemon juice or a dash of balsamic vinegar, if you’re so inclined.
I learned this method for pan-roasting asparagus from Cook’s lllustrated, and it always turns out delicious:
- Snap off the woody ends of about 1 lb. of asparagus spears (thicker stems work better for this recipe).
- In a 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1 tbsp. butter over medium-high until the oil is shimmering.
- Add the asparagus spears to the pan in a single layer with half the tips pointing in one direction and half the tips pointing in the other.
- Cover and let cook about 5 minutes, until the spears turn bright green.
- Uncover and continue to roast until the spears are browned to your liking, shaking occasionally, another 5-6 minutes.
- Season and serve.
This method serves 2-4 people, depending on how much you like asparagus.
If you have leftover pan-roasted asparagus, slice the spears and toss them cold with mixed baby salad greens and a little oil and vinegar. Shave some Parmesan on top for a delicious quick salad.