happy second day of spring! by which i mean, i hope you’re staying warm and dry during one of the bigger “snow storms” we’ve had this year, albeit *not* technically this winter. regardless of what is going on in new england, somewhere, the weather knows what it’s supposed to be doing and it’s allowing some pretty tasty asparagus to grow.
asparagus is another one of those fruits/veggies that i’m picky about only eating in season because it’s just not any good the rest of the year. luckily for me, the season seems to be starting a bit early somewhere, as i’ve had some good asparagus over the past couple of weeks. (i do always steer clear of the really fat stalks of asparagus, regardless of the season, as i’ve never particularly enjoyed them.)
as far as this particular recipe goes, my husband was actually the one who first found this method for roasted asparagus several years ago. we’ve been in love with it ever since, as it is super simple, really quick, pretty much foolproof, and requires only asparagus and oil so we never have to worry about picking up a long list of ingredients to dress up the veggies.
the one caveat i will mention is that if you have an oil with a higher smoke point, you’ll want to use it here. the last 2 or so minutes of cooking are at high heat and if you use regular olive oil, your kitchen will get a little bit smoky. we’re partial to using extra light olive oil (basically the opposite of extra virgin). this article explains it all pretty well and has a handy chart so you can pick an oil that will work for you.
oil choices aside, this recipe is wonderfully simple, an attribute we appreciate all the more these days as we’ve just moved and the boxes are still piled – quite literally – over our heads. any recipe that just needs 1 pan (with a lid), 1 vegetable, and a splash of oil is a total winner – always – but especially now.
and even though i have managed to dig out my knives and cutting boards, i don’t use them here, preferring instead to snap the ends of the asparagus off with my hands. i read somewhere a few years ago that if you hold the stalk end of the asparagus in one hand and hold the stalk roughly in the middle in your other hand and bend the stalk, it will naturally snap at the point where the stem gets tough. this method seems preferable to guessing where that point might be and sawing off an arbitrary amount of asparagus with a knife.
so there you have one of my favorite spring vegetable recipes AND one of the recipes that is simple enough to prepare after you’ve spent the day painting your new office. or, you know, whatever you’ve spent the day doing. shoveling perhaps…
- 1 bunch asparagus
- 2 teaspoons high smoke point oil, such as extra light olive oil
- balsamic vinegar for drizzling, optional
- wash asparagus and pat dry. break or cut the tough ends off.
- heat oil over medium-low heat in a large, flat bottom skillet with a lid. ideally, your trimmed asparagus will fit in the pan in one layer, or as close to a single layer as possible. once the oil is hot, add the asparagus, turn them over to coat all sides in oil, cover, and set a timer for 7 minutes (6 minutes if you’re using really skinny asparagus).
- halfway through the cook time, flip the asparagus over a bit (don’t worry about getting every single piece rotated 180°). replace the lid on the pan.
- when the timer goes off, remove the lid from the pan and turn the heat up to medium-high. stirring frequently, cook the asparagus for about 2 more minutes, until brown marks form on several sides of the stalks.
- remove from heat and serve immediately. drizzle balsamic vinegar over each serving, if you like.
this recipe works well with “regular” (pinky – ring finger width) asparagus or “skinny” (pencil width or narrower) but i tend to stay away from thick (thumb width or larger) asparagus as i just never like it.