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Roasted Asparagus Spears

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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).

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.

Place the asparagus laden sheet pan into the oven and allow it to roast for 10 to 15 minutes.

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.

Roasted Asparagus (serves 2)
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
1 lb. (450 g) asparaguscleantrimcoatseason to tasteroast 10-15 minutes
1 Tbs. (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
Salt & pepper
Copyright 2005 Michael Chu
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Written by Michael Chu
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55 comments on Roasted Asparagus Spears:(Post a comment)

On October 18, 2005 at 01:15 AM, Athryn (guest) said...
I ususally add a chopped shallot, or a chopped slice or two of red onion, if I can't find any shallots. It caramelises in the oven, and adds a nice flavor.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:15 AM, Adam (guest) said...
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.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:15 AM, Rob (guest) said...
I usually pan fry them. I'll have to give this a try.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:16 AM, Chris Bellamy (guest) said...
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.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:16 AM, an anonymous reader said...
This approach on the grill is equally delicious (top grill for a little less heat - unless you like it a little charred, like I do). ---Kay

On October 18, 2005 at 01:17 AM, ejm_repost (guest) said...
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.

The following is not exactly the same as Wells' recipe but the method is similar.


On October 18, 2005 at 01:17 AM, laapesq (guest) said...
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.


On October 18, 2005 at 01:17 AM, ke (guest) said...
Instead of rolling the asparagus through the oil with your hands, try tossing the stalks in a ziploc bag with just a little oil. It takes very little to coat a lot of asparagus.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:18 AM, an anonymous reader said...
DaveC here...

1. 500 degrees for 8 minutes works fine.

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!

On October 18, 2005 at 01:18 AM, Patrick Corcoran (guest) said...
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.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:18 AM, laurenbove (guest) said...
I love this recipe and have been making my asparagus this way for a while...i suggest shaving off some real parmesano reggiano on them before you bake at high heat. Crispy cheezey goodness.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:18 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Another variation is to add a mixture of soy sauce and ginger.

It's my favorite!

On October 18, 2005 at 01:19 AM, Tracy (guest) said...
good tips! I'm another fan of the "ziploc trick"

On October 18, 2005 at 01:19 AM, Michael Chu said...
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.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:19 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Finely sliced garlic (use a hand-held garlic slicer for very fine slices) tossed in with and roasted with the aspargus is wonderful. The garlic browns and is slightly crunchy which adds to the flavor.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:19 AM, Wei Tseng (guest) said...
My housemate Paula and I (Wei) enjoy a leisurely blanching of our asparagus in Kingston's finest H2O. The toxic waste upstream from Toronto gives it a certain je ne sais quoi. The phospherous dichlorofluoride gives it that distinct Ontarian flavour.
With a spread of butter and a dash of NaCl, it is a creamy heaven.

Wei & Paula

On October 18, 2005 at 01:20 AM, Dr ObviousSo (guest) said...
Instead of rolling food around in the oil with your hands, and getting them messy, I keep my oils in spray bottles.

I've got corn, olive and cheep vegie oil ready to go depending on what I'm making. Not only does it keep me clean in cases like this, I've completely done away with that horid lipid known only as "pam".

On October 18, 2005 at 01:20 AM, qIuQuN (guest) said...
I love this website!

Anyway, I will normally, roll the asparagus with bacon and roast it. hehe! yummy!

On October 18, 2005 at 01:21 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Men: This kind of recipe would really impress a woman. Its just so subtly sexy. I suggest either a few sliced almonds on top OR crumbled boiled egg yolk (not both) - both are traditional and very elegant. Serve it to me and I'll make out with you!

On October 18, 2005 at 01:21 AM, anjali (guest) said...
I sometimes toss a little sesame seed on the top. I am definately going to try the onion/garlic additions.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:21 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I have aquick trick using the Ziplock. I just toss in how much asparagus I want to cook in a ziplock bag add some salt, pepper and a pat of butter. Just seal the bag almost shut and toss it in the microwave for 3 min. or so. The asparagus is done crisp tender and ther is no mess to clean up, just toss the bag.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:21 AM, eiresicilia (guest) said...
I agree a very sexy dish to prepare....a light sprinkle of seasoned breadcrumbs then freshly grated cheese, is wonderful!!

On October 18, 2005 at 01:22 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I like a little carmelization on my asparagus so I roast at 450 degrees instead of the recommended 350. They're also great grilled providing you keep them aligned perpendicular to the grates. :)

On October 18, 2005 at 01:22 AM, David (guest) said...
I just tried roasting asparagus with a little soy sauce, sesame oil, and sesame seeds. Excellent!

Tip for grilling -- make "rafts" (think what you would do if stranded on a desert island) out of the asparagus by putting toothpicks through a couple. Two toothpicks for each raft will keep all the spears stable. A raft won't fall through the grill, and you can turn a whole bunch in one fell swoop!

On October 18, 2005 at 01:22 AM, Bryan (guest) said...
I grill the asparagus with the Reynolds Wrap non-stick grilling sheets. It saves me the trouble of making sure that the asparagus does not slip through. At the same time I add red bell pepper slices and onion slices.

I've found the results from grilling to be much better than from oven-roasting. Well, except for the time that I got caught up in that basketball game.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:22 AM, an anonymous reader said...
in mexico we grill beside asparagus some yellow, red, green and orange pimientos (the ones that aren't spicy but sweet) to add some color. olive oil salt and pepper

On October 18, 2005 at 01:23 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Made this one tonite, together with the apples, and it was wonderful. Had some polenta and fennel with it, and a nice salad. Many thanks!

On October 18, 2005 at 01:23 AM, an anonymous reader said...
I make mine the same way, but always use kosher salt and drizzle a little lime juice.

On October 18, 2005 at 01:23 AM, Brenda (guest) said...
Washington State is known for its asparagus and we have been experimenting. We use the plastic bag method with koshher salt and roast 4" stalks for 16 min. and 1/2" stalks for 20 min. This is about when the color turns

On October 18, 2005 at 06:50 PM, Schmoopy (guest) said...
Subject: Try this...
The recipe as stated in the article but add 3 tbsp of sugar as well.

On October 18, 2005 at 09:32 PM, Guest (guest) said...
You're actually not supposed to do that thing where you break it and it just breaks at its weakest point. Its "eakest point" will just end up beign wherever your fingers decide it to be. It's better to just cut off 1.5-2in from the bottom for all of them.

On November 20, 2005 at 12:30 PM, clou (guest) said...
Subject: roasted asparagus recipe
I made this for my mother-in-law and she liked it! and ya know how hard it is to please your MIL! thanks so much! :)

On November 24, 2005 at 02:02 PM, skmccaslin (guest) said...
Subject: another shortcut
I love roasted asparagus - I use the Pam Olive Oil spray and it works GREAT!

On January 07, 2006 at 03:14 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Never knew you could do so much with asparagus.

On January 17, 2006 at 10:49 PM, candace (guest) said...
I like to add a bit of balsalmic vinegar with the parmasian cheese, if I'm feeling really crazy, I'll wrap it in italian ham (can't spell prociutto) around it, then add the balsalmic vinegar.

On January 21, 2006 at 07:54 PM, Kawartha said...
Subject: BBQ
I usually add it to a ziploc... squeeze 1/2 lemon, and some olive to coat. A few cracks of black pepper, and I let it sit for a 1/2 hour or so. Then to the barby.... some kosher salt sprinkled on...

Mmm Mmmmmm Mmmmmmmmm :P

Fresh grated Parmasan Regiano just before plating... yum


edit: Added chesse line

On June 18, 2006 at 05:04 PM, an anonymous reader said...
I've been roasting aspargus and cauliflower using this technique for years. Just roasting with salt, pepper, and olive oil works great, steaming and boiling leaches out all flavor.

One tip-- after roasting is done, try drizzling a little dark sesame or truffle oil on top. Just a little bit goes a long way.

On June 18, 2006 at 10:36 PM, MeganAmyH said...
Our current favourite is to roast it with some of the Maldon salt, and a thinly sliced lemon. The lemon adds a nice flavour without being overpowering, and the Maldon gives it that nice crunchy salt bite without being overpowering like the Kosher.

On August 29, 2006 at 11:21 AM, Asparagusgirl (guest) said...
Subject: Love it!
I love this recipe...and this site!!!!! What a great idea!

If you want to try out more recipes.....from a non engineering side... We also have a science project for white asparagus as welL!!!!

On September 05, 2006 at 11:03 AM, sheila said...
Subject: Can I do the roasted aspargus on my BBQ?
I love asparagus. Too bad I didn't as a kid because it grew wild across the street in the vacant lot :)

As I do not have a "proper" oven on my CAL-34 sailboat, can I make a packet for the aspargus in aluminum foil and put on the BBQ?

If so, any tips?

Anchored at the Caribbean island of St. Maarten / St. Martin
Personal Sailing blog
Yacht Charter blog

On September 05, 2006 at 03:42 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Can I do the roasted aspargus on my BBQ?
sheila wrote:
As I do not have a "proper" oven on my CAL-34 sailboat, can I make a packet for the aspargus in aluminum foil and put on the BBQ?

You can put the asparagus directly onto the grill. Rotate/roll once and cook until the color has changed into a deeper green color.

On February 20, 2007 at 09:58 PM, crinklebug (guest) said...
Subject: Awesome Asparagus?
[color=violet:a6ae778a37][b:a6ae778a37]Mmmmm, yeah! I've been making this on the grill for years! Easiest way to do this recipe, like others have said, is in a gallon zipper bag. My favorite addition is fresh lime juice. Squeeze the juice of one or two limes into the bag after the salt, olive oil and pepper, zip it shut and shake, shake, shake. Excellent when grilled until crisp! Almost candied. This is a must for all our summer BBQ's.
Another goodie is to shmear goat cheese or cream cheese onto pepper quarters, or mini pepper halves, and grill until cheese has a touch of gold on edges.
Broiling both will achieve same deliciousness.[/b:a6ae778a37][/color:a6ae778a37] :P

On March 09, 2007 at 11:51 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Love this website
I just discovered this website while searching for a roasted asperigus recipe. Just the title, "Cooking for Engineers" gave me the biggest laugh of the day. The nicely organized recipe cards are a hoot. I am a 45 year old female engineer who does just fine with cookbooks, but I'm bookmarking this site!

On May 21, 2007 at 11:39 PM, ValveEngineer (guest) said...
Subject: Roasted Asparagus
Thanks to Michael and Chef Emeril I found the perfect (and easy) enhancement.

After rolling the (2 pounds) asparagus in the oil and dusting with salt and freah ground pepper I minced 2 garlic cloves on top and rolled some more. I mixed it in as best I could and roasted at 425 deg F for 15 minutes. I turned the oven off and left it in for 2 more minutes.

On top of the stove I squeezed 1/2 small lemon over the asparagus and mixed it together with the roasted garlic. I intended to leave the last half for my wife who works late. Not a chance this tme!

I grabbed the asparagus (with clean hands) and ate it starting at the tips. I discovered that eating it this way I could easily detect when to stop at any tough ends. I had only cut off 1 inch earlier not knowing where the toughness begins. This resolved the problem of tough asparagus ends. Should I have used a fork? No way!

I'll probably never steam asparagus again. Engineers rule!

On July 25, 2007 at 02:56 PM, John M (guest) said...
Subject: Okra
This method is also good for uncut okra pods. I leave out the pepper, and eat them as a finger food.

On September 04, 2007 at 08:39 PM, Trip D (guest) said...
Subject: Roasted asparagus
It takes another 5 minutes of prep time, but try peeling the stalks before the oil and salt treatment. What you lose in mass you'll get back twofold in tenderness. Really makes them melt in your mouth.

On September 08, 2007 at 06:52 PM, THE T (guest) said...
Subject: Oven Temp
[b:2da3dcd1eb]My oven doesn't reach 500dF according to my thermocouple; but acording to its lights it does. Common?

Now for who cares conversation...

I do not feel that it makes a big difference if I read 487dF. Nor do I really care if I read dC, dF. dK or dR in posts. I think the sensible thing is to use your countrie's, states's or what ever's is prevailant system.

I don't really care if we use hexidecima lor octal for assembly programming. Or KIPS or KPSI. Also I prefer linear sliderules, I only have 1 Post Versilog Bamboo, 2 Plasic and 5 circular.

I am fine with us using what ever SL or cpu or calc u want.

My COCO and Timex(Sinclair) still works. I know a little about electrinics, software, Iowa farming, being University Proffessor, and determining what is in the ground and how to identify it.

But I want to know about how to cook!


On October 10, 2007 at 12:06 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Top off with cheese
For a slight protein boost, you can also put some cheese on top before baking/roasting.

I think mozerella would be the best although I'm usually quite the lazy poke and go with the kraft cheddar slices I find in the fridge. Add in only after about 5 mins if you prefer your cheese a little more 'wet' than crispy.

I've done this in the regular toaster oven too if you don't have a regular oven. Toasting time will need to be a little longer though.

The aluminium foil is a great idea too! Esp when trying to clean out crusted cheese!

- Geri

On January 16, 2008 at 01:17 PM, woodNfish (guest) said...
Subject: try this instead
Hey, I love roasted and grilled asparagus, but the way I learned to cook it from my mom was to give it an egg bath then coat it with corn meal and fry it in a pan of shallow oil. It's delicious with a crispy nutty flavor. the only thing I do differently now is mix 50 % corn meal and 50% flour, then spice it with garlic powder, salt, pepper and oregano. Delicious!

On March 21, 2008 at 10:49 PM, herbalista said...
Subject: I'll never steam again!
This is so good! And olive oil is good for your skin, so use your hands to oil the stalks.
I've been wanting to try this for a long time. I've always butter-steamed and served with mayo, which was great, but oh my.
I finally did this tonight, expecting a lot of family resistance of the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" variety. I got it until they tasted it, now this is all they want. I cooked one bunch, with 4 kept back to take for family dinner tomorrow. We'll be taking 3 because I had to cook another bunch.
This is just asparagus to the highest power.

BTW, I save the bottoms in a freezer bag. When I get enough, I buy another fresh bunch for the tops and cook all the bottoms in stock, blend it, strain it, mix in the tops and chopped stalks, add cream, butter,'s a wing-it recipe for cream of asparagus soup. I've even done it with soy milk and flour for vegan friends.

On February 27, 2009 at 03:40 PM, Chicago Ski (guest) said...
Subject: Gilled Asparagus
To grill asparagus, take some wooden skewers and make small fences of asparagus. Usually, I put about 4-5 stalks together. Easy to grill, turn and won't fall through the grates.

On May 07, 2009 at 11:24 AM, Angelika (guest) said...
Subject: Superb!
I'll never make asparagus any other way!

On June 18, 2009 at 07:33 PM, newbee (guest) said...
Subject: Lemonized roasted asparagus
We usually add not just the juice of a half lemon (more or less) but also a good deal of the zest from that lemon. We also prefer to roast them until they are somewhat crisp at the pointy end. One of us believes that zesting the lemon 'deep' gives a bitter flavor, so stick to just the first yellow layer.

On August 24, 2009 at 08:22 PM, Lubos (guest) said...
Subject: engineers
Hi Michael, I recently started a website where I post step-by-step instructions for making Slovak food, www . slovakcooking . com. When I showed it to some folks at work (NASA Goddard), they mentioned that I should visit CookingForEngineers. We engineers really do think alike! Great site, by the way.

On April 10, 2012 at 11:50 PM, Beaglefun said...
I loved all the suggestions for fixing Asparagus. I generally steam cook it with a little salt, then sprinkle some lemons juice on it.

Another twist on this is to fix eggplant, zucchini, and peppers the same way. I like to add garlic powder to it. Very good!!! ;)

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