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Roasted Asparagus Four Ways

When preparing asparagus for cooking, check for a tough, fibrous inedible portion at the base of each spear. You can cut off the dry, coarse-looking base or simply break off the tough end of each spear by bending it gently until it snaps. It will break precisely where the tender part ends and the tough part begins. If the skin seems thick and tough, use a vegetable peeler or paring knife to peel the stalk to within about 2 inches of the tip. This will help the asparagus cook more evenly.

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches asparagus, preferably thick, trimmed
      and peeled if needed
  • 2 Tbs. dry white wine or dry vermouth
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon

Directions:

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 450°F.

In a large, shallow baking pan or on a rimmed baking sheet, toss together the asparagus, wine, salt, pepper and olive oil until the asparagus spears are evenly coated.

Roast the asparagus until the spears are browned in spots and are just tender-crisp, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook.

Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the lemon juice, to taste. Serve immediately or try any of the following variations.

Roasted Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan:
Drizzle the hot roasted asparagus with lemon juice as directed. Then, using a cheese shaver, a vegetable peeler or a paring knife, shave 1 to 2 oz. Parmigiano-Reggiano, pecorino romano, Asiago or dry jack cheese over the asparagus.

Roasted Asparagus with Pesto:
Omit the lemon juice. Toss the hot roasted asparagus with 1 to 2 Tbs. pesto, or to taste. Serve immediately.

Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise:
Drizzle the hot roasted asparagus with lemon juice as directed, then serve it with hollandaise sauce (see related recipe at left).

Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series, Vegetable, by Marlena Spieler (Simon & Schuster, 2002).