How To: Roast Asparagus
Aaahhh. Asparagus. Is there anything better about spring (and early summer) than the joy at seeing these bundles of bright green vegetables lined up in rows at the grocery store or farmers market? OK, fine. Not having to wear a jacket every time you leave the house, living in flip flops, and tan lines all run a close second. Asparagus is best in the spring and early summer, although this can vary depending on where you live and how long the snow lingers into May.
If you are not an asparagus lover, I feel the need to ask you a several questions about why. Have you eaten it recently, or is this a dislike leftover from childhood? If that is the case, it is time to give it another try. Was it over-cooked and mushy the last time you ate it? I’m sorry. Roast it next time. It will change your life. Or at least dinner. Have you never tried it before because you are a big, wimpy chicken and trying new foods gives you the heebie jeebies? Well then GET OVER IT! There is a whole new food world out there, my friend! Jump in with both feet, go really crazy (not really since asparagus isn’t all that exotic, but it just might be to you!) and roast some veggies! Here is a perfect example. Years ago, a very close friend of mine shuddered and cringed when I served her asparagus, shaking her head and waving her hands in front of her as if to ward off its ickyness. I shrugged, setting the platter in front of her, and turned back to the kitchen to finish making dinner. The platter was filled with steamed asparagus, still firm, and chilled, drizzled with a raspberry walnut vinaigrette. Her curiosity got the best of her and she snatched a spear from the pile and munched away. Before dinner was ready, the whole pound of asparagus was gone, and grinning to myself, I patiently steamed another batch.
When choosing asparagus look for unblemished spears with dry, tight tips. Thin and about the width of a pencil seems to result in the most tender vegetables, but anything up to the size of your middle finger is really fine. Bigger than that and you have to peel them and the ends are extra woody…too much work. Snap off the end of one of the spears and it will naturally break where the woody portion ends and the tender stalk begins. If you have the time, feel free to snap every single spear. I find this is a good task for children who want to help in the kitchen. If you want to move things along… …use one spear as a guide and trim the ends off the whole bundle. This is much easier when you have large hands like my husband and can hold onto the whole pound at once! Then toss onto a sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. My son was helping us in the kitchen! Roll the asparagus around a bit to evenly coat and then roast in a 425 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, or until crisp tender and desired doneness. Let the drooling commence!Happy roasting!