Monday, March 26, 2012

Roasted Asparagus

Asparagus is so wonderfully abundant and affordable right now.  I try to make some at least once a week.  Fresh, steamed asparagus is my favorite, but cooking it can go very wrong, very quickly.  So, I’ve developed this more-forgiving, roasted asparagus recipe for those evenings when I’m busy or just plain tired.

You need:
1 pound fresh asparagus
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon or lime juice
And Mrs. Dash (we prefer the Original Blend)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Rinse asparagus spears and snap off the woody bottom of each asparagus.  You can peel the spears if you like, but I seldom do.

Place asparagus in a ceramic or glass baking dish.  Drizzle with olive oil (about 2 tablespoons) and juice (about 1 tablespoon).  I usually choose lime over lemon juice.  And finally sprinkle with Mrs. Dash (1.5-2 tablespoons).
Toss asparagus with herbs.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Tonight’s batch took 12 minutes.  Serve warm.  Or chill completely and serve as a salad over greens.  This slightly tangy asparagus is a natural accompaniment to salmon, pork or scrambled eggs.
Roasted asparagus with beer-braised pork and onions plus potato pierogies and a pint of beer.
Those are diced prunes sprinkled over the pork.  Yummy.
You could create your own herb mixture with the following dried herbs: basil, parsley, oregano, cumin, coriander, a dash of cayenne pepper, plus 1 clove garlic, minced, a little lemon zest, celery salt and ground black pepper, or… make a similar blend of fresh herbs.  Keep in mind, the ratio is usually 1 tablespoon fresh herbs for every 1 teaspoon of dried ones.  And 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon.

This recipe calls for almost 2 tablespoons or 6 teaspoons dried herbs = 6 tablespoons fresh herbs.

It sounds like a lot, but it just works out to about 1/3 cup of fresh herbs.

We’ve also used this recipe exactly to roast Brussels sprouts;
eliminated the juice to roast cauliflower;
and substituted orange juice and extended cooking time to roast baby carrots.
So why not parsnips, hearts of Romaine, slightly blanched green beans, or even something sweet, like under-ripe pears?  When working with these other vegetables, just make sure you divide them into somewhat equal pieces, so everything cooks evenly.  And experiment a little.  The possibilities are actually endless.

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