I’m rather surprised I haven’t already posted this easy asparagus recipe. Eric and I were in charge of asparagus this past Easter, and it was such a hit that everyone was asking how I made it. The recipe itself is absolutely simple. The secret is in using fresh ingredients. Tender crisp asparagus, lemon zest and juice from an actual fresh lemon, and freshly minced garlic with a good finishing olive oil and a crunchy salt make this asparagus side dish the main event.
I’ve offered several tips on how to cook asparagus in various recipes. Basic roasted asparagus is perfect as an easy side dish or added to recipes that call for cooked asparagus like my poached egg with asparagus. I’ll also serve it over meat and rice like Chinese chicken thighs, or use leftovers to make an asparagus frittata. But if you’re looking for a side dish that will have people begging for seconds, this is the number one way to make your asparagus.
As I said, you use just a few ingredients, so they need to be super stars. I buy bottled lemon juice and jars of chopped garlic, but I don’t use them in this recipe. Each individual flavor stands out and shines while still complementing the other ingredients. You can use a garlic press, smash it and then chop it with a knife, or use this amazing little chopper that my mother in law has. I want one!!!
For the lemon zest, I use a microplane grater to get a lot of zest really easily. This is one of my favorite kitchen tools and I use it almost every day I cook. It’s great for cheese, nutmeg, ginger, garlic, citrus zest and more!
Make sure the asparagus you buy is not rubbery. If we’re eating asparagus on it’s own (not in curry or stir fry for example), I’m very picky. It should have a nice crunch to it. You trim asparagus by holding it at the stem end and in the middle, then bending until it snaps off at the natural breaking point. If you have fresh asparagus, the stem end that snaps off should not be more than a couple inches long.
Once you snap those ends off, DON’T throw the away! I finally figured out what to do with asparagus ends to avoid food waste. That post is coming soon. Just put the ends in a plastic bag or food storage container in the fridge for up to one week or the freezer. It’ll be worth it!!!
Now for the olive oil. I have a big jug of everyday olive oil that I cook with, well, everyday. But I have a smaller more expensive olive oil that has a stronger taste which I use for special dishes. It has a bright taste kind of like…hmmm…grassy bananas. I know sounds funny but that’s what I think of I taste it! You can get away with every day olive oil for this, the other flavors are special enough. But if you’ve got a good oil that you received as a gift perhaps, this is the recipe to bust it out for.
To finish your asparagus, you want a nice crunchy salt. For Easter I just used kosher salt. Alaea Hawaiian salt is amazing, you can also use various large grain artisan salts. Plain old kosher salt is just fine though, and totally cheap. Never, never, NEVER salt your asparagus or other vegetables before roasting them. Salt draws out water, you will end up with sad soggy asparagus if you salt too soon. Once you sure it’s baked or roasted to your desired crispness, then you salt it.
Do you have a favorite salt or olive oil that you might use in this dish? I’d love to hear your suggestions.
- 16 thick stemmed asparagus, trimmed
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp lemon zest
- 2 TBS lemon juice
- 2 TBS extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 tsp coarse salt
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and place asparagus on a rimmed baking sheet or in a baking pan in a single layer.
- Sprinkle the minced garlic and lemon zest over the asparagus and drizzle with the lemon juice and olive oil.
- Roast for 7-12 minutes until easily pierced with a fork but still very crispy.
- Remove from oven and sprinkle with salt.
Approximate cost/serving: This cost me just around $2.40 to make so came out to just 60 cents a serving. If asparagus is your only side with meat, you might want to double the serving size.
Vegetarian/Gluten Free: Yes to both with no substitutions needed. Vegan too!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 81Total Fat: 7gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 6gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 162mgCarbohydrates: 5gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 2g
Nutrition information is an estimate only.