Sometimes it doesn't take much effort to bring out the flavors in an ingredient and roasting asparagus in the oven is one of those times. Lightly seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper, asparagus is not only a delicious accompaniment to any main course, it's also rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
Lately, I've received a lot of mail requesting recipes that take little or no preparation time - for the busy student, hard working professional, or web junkies eager to get back to surfing online. Since I've been working fairly long hours lately, I haven't been able to spend much time in the kitchen. When I do cook, it's basic but flavorful fare. This asparagus recipe is one that requires less than five minutes of preparation time and works well with most entrees (which can be prepared while the asparagus is in the oven).
First, place a rack into the center of your oven and preheat it to 350°F. While the oven is warming up, wash the asparagus to remove any dirt particles that may be lodged in the tips or stuck to the stalks. Snap off the bottoms of the asparagus stalks. The bottom of the stalk is fibrous and not very pleasant to eat, so just grab the bottom and bend until it snaps. Let the stalk snap at a natural breaking point as close to the cut end as possible. This position will be different for each stalk, but will very nearly guarantee that all your asparagus stalks will be tender. (Cutting off the bottoms doesn't work too well since you have to guess where the stalk stops being tender.)
Pour about 1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil per pound of asparagus onto a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil (for easy clean up - saving time after cooking and dining is important too). [IMG]
Using your hands, roll the asparagus through the oil and rub them against each other until the oil coats them all. Spread the asparagus out in the sheet pan to form a single layer. Apply freshly ground black pepper and salt to the oiled asparagus. [IMG]
Place the asparagus laden sheet pan into the oven and allow it to roast for 10 to 15 minutes. [IMG]
Roasting the asparagus until it just changes color from a medium green to a dark green will result in tender but still somewhat crisp texture. Continuing to roast until some light browning appears will provide a mushy and somewhat limp texture with a heightened flavor. Continuing to roast will dehydrate the asparagus and result in a fibrous mass in the shape of blackened asparagus.
This recipe can be doubled or quadrupled without adding additional roasting time. If you need to use more than one sheet pan, then set two racks near the 1/3 and 2/3 positions in the oven. After about 6 or 7 minutes or roasting, rotate the pans and finish.
This is a little (actually, a lot) less healthy, but quite tasty.
On some foil put about 1/4 of an inch of butter. (oil would work too)
Then put half-a-bundle of asparagus on there.
Drop in a chunk or 2 of garlic.
Sprinkle on some Johnny's Seasoning Salt
tightly wrap the foil up, so no juices escape
toss on the BBQ at medium heat.
It usually takes about 15 minutes for mine to be done the way I like. You get some nice soft (and cooked) chunks of garlic too.
I like to cut the asparagus up, put it in a covered baking dish, and add the zest and juice of one lemon to the other ingredients you mention, and cook it for the same amount of time. Yummy! For an extra special dish, i also sometimes add a can of marinated artichoke hearts.
Great idea to roast asparagus! We usually steam it....
I just learned that there is a use for the bottom discarded part of the asparagus (other than putting it into the garden compost heap). Patricia Wells, in "The Paris Cookbook", suggests making asparagus velouté out of the bottom halves of asparagus stalks, leeks, olive oil, chicken stock and seasalt. She serves the velouté in espresso cups as an appetizer.
I follow the same recipe with the following twist.
I place the asparagus, 2 or 3 tablespoonfuls of water, 2 or 3 tablespoonfuls of virgin olive oil and salt to taste in a Reynolds "Hot Bag" and place it on the grill. Seal the "Hot Bag" and remove after 5 or 6 minutes -- careful not to leave on the grill too long.
2. I always use kosher salt - I like a coarser salt on these.
3. When they're done, sprinkle on some freshly grated parmesan cheese, or, while the asparagi are cooking, fry up a tablespoon or two of capers (drain them first & pat them dry if they are coming from a jar) for about one minute in a bit of olive oil. Delicious!
If you've never before tried roasting asparagus, you will be amazed... it is incredibly easy and has become the only way I cook them now. (With the sole exception that I sometimes blanche them in boiling salt water for 2 minutes and toss them in an ice bath -- this preparation is mainly for salads.)
Another seasoning variety for roasted asparagus is to use toasted sesame oil instead of olive oil. Grate a light amount of fresh ginger over the spears, and then drizzle the whole assembly with some low-sodium soy sauce. This is still a "busy schedule" kind of dish, but one which causes people to sit up and take notice of the unique character of the dish.
Joined: 10 May 2005 Posts: 1651 Location: Austin, TX (USA)
Posted: Tue Oct 18, 2005 5:19 am Post subject:
re: ziploc bag
I feel that rolling the asparagus in olive oil by hand is just as effective as the ziploc bag - but after I simply wash my hands. Washing a ziploc bag is troublesome and just throwing a large one away after oiling asparagus seems like a waste.