Roasted Asparagus with Toasted Bread Crumbs

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Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

The best way to trim spears of asparagus is to bend the cut end of each spear until it breaks naturally. The bottom portion will be tough and fibrous; the balance of the spear will be tender. You can cut a thin slice from the base of each spear for a tidier finish. If you have purchased very thick spears, you may also want to peel them lightly to within 2 inches or so of the tip, as the outer skin is sometimes fibrous. Peeling asparagus does not reduce its dietary fiber.


  • 1 bunch asparagus, about 1 lb., tough ends removed  
  • 3 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh thyme  
  • 1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs, from day-old coarse country bread with crusts removed 
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest 
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 


Preheat an oven to 450°F.

Spread the asparagus in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with 1 tsp. of the olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tsp. of the thyme. Toss to coat the asparagus evenly.

Roast the asparagus, stirring once halfway through the roasting time, until tender-crisp, 7 to 10 minutes; the timing will depend on the thickness of the spears.

Meanwhile, place the bread crumbs in a small bowl and drizzle with the remaining 2 tsp. oil; toss to coat. Place a fry pan over medium heat. When it is hot, add the bread crumbs, reduce the heat to medium-low and toast, stirring, until they are golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1 tsp. thyme, the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and a grind of pepper. Remove from the heat.

Arrange the asparagus on a warmed platter and sprinkle the hot bread crumbs over the top. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons (Oxmoor House, 2003).

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