Sometimes simple is the best way to go. Sometimes anything more than five ingredients is just too many and would get in the way of what you’re trying to accomplish. And really, do salt and pepper count as an ingredient? If not, you reduce that count to three! (Sometimes you want something totally over the top and amazing and show-off worthy, and that’s every bit as good!) But, sometimes simple really is the way to go. This is especially true of asparagus.
I love asparagus. Really. It is one of those vegetables that I will eat whenever I can get it, and is one of those items that I purchase greedily even if they were grown half way around the world. (Which, I realize living in Hawaii, they usually are. And I know they would be a thousand times better if I could get them fresher. But, alas, I have to make sacrifices for living in paradise.) But, even flown in from half way around the world, I’m happy to have asparagus.
This tender shoot is delicious in quiches, fabulous in frittata, and wonderful stirred into a risotto. But, none of those are what I’d call simple. Simple, when it comes to asparagus has a basic formula: asparagus + heat + fat + salt = heaven.
I’ve found that my preferred heat for asparagus comes from dry heat. I’ve steamed them in the microwave, and boiled them in a half inch of water on the stovetop, but I think they benefit the most from a hot oven (or, if you have it, the grill would work quite well). Lubricated with a little bit of olive oil, seasoned with a little bit of sea salt, and finished off with a few sprinkles of cheese, you’ll fall in love with this preparation method.
- 6 – 8 asparagus spears per person, woody ends snapped off
- olive oil
- sea salt
- parmesan or pecorino cheese
- fresh ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
On a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roll them around to make sure everything is evenly coated.
Roast for 5 minutes, then remove from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. While they are out, check for doneness level.
Return the asparagus to the oven and roast for another 2-4 minutes or until a fork meets just the slightest amount of resistance when poked into a spear.* Serve immediately with a few grinds of black pepper.
*A note on asparagus doneness: You want your asparagus to be tender-crisp without any hint of mushiness. Over cooked asparagus gets mushy and stringy and you want to avoid that at all costs. Better to have slightly underdone crisp spears than floppy mushy ones. There are few things sadder than a flaccid asparagus spear. In the final minutes of cooking, test them often to prevent this from happening.