ALL ABOUT ASPARAGUS

We’ve all got our favorite ways to use asparagus — steamed,  sautéed, blanched, sliced, in soups, in risottos, chilled in salads, with aioli, with lemon zest, in an omelet, tossed in pasta, dipped in tempura batter and fried…

…but my hands-down favorite is:  Flash-roasted!

If you didn’t already love asparagus because it’s delicious, get ready to love it even more for what it can do for you!  Asparagus is low in calories… about 20 calories for a 3-ounce serving. Despite its low cal reputation, asparagus packs a huge punch in the nutrient-density department:  it’s a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, folic acid, iron, potassium and chromium.  Not to mention it’s a great source for dietary fiber!

At the market, choose your asparagus carefully.  Asparagus is usually sold in one-pound bunches.  Make sure you select the stalks that are straight, smooth and bright green with tight, compact bud tips (mushy tips mean trouble – they’ve been sitting around too long).  Remember, the fresher the asparagus, the more nutrients it still has to offer.  Also, avoid the really thick stalks.  You might think you’re getting more value for your money by buying a bigger size, but in this case, the smaller, the better.  We prefer stems that are pencil thin to dime-sized in diameter.  Thicker stems can be tough, woody and bitter.

Two Asparagus Recipes

Blanched and Sauteed Asparagus w Lemon Zest

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and blanched
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • generous pinch kosher salt
  • generous pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • zest of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

Directions:

In a medium-sized saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium flame and add the blanched asparagus.  Saute until the asparagus is heated through, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.  Turn off the heat and toss in the lemon zest and vinegar.  Serve immediately or chilled.

Flash-Roasted Asparagus

(serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • generous pinch kosher salt
  • generous pinch freshly ground black pepper

Special Equipment:

  • Baking sheet lined with aluminum foil
  • Oven mitts

Directions:

Preheat the oven and a foil-lined baking sheet to 500℉ for about 30 minutes.  It’s best if the oven is ROCKET HOT before you begin preparing the asparagus.

Toss the asparagus in a bowl with the olive oil salt and pepper.

When the oven is sufficiently hot enough to sizzle even the smallest drop of water on the baking sheet, quickly toss the seasoned asparagus onto the baking sheet and close the oven door.  ROAST FOR 3 minutes (or until the smoke starts to set off your smoke detector.)

With the oven mitts, remove the baking sheet from the oven and roll the asparagus around.  Return to the oven and roast for another 2-4 minuts, or until the asparagus is tender.

Serve immediately.

This flash-roasting technique is great for when you’re pressed for time but still want something beautifully-cooked and delicious to go with dinner.  And this method is also great to use on green beans, baby Brussels Sprouts, radishes, zucchini and eggplants!

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