When I first moved to Indiana after living in California for 2 years, I talked to my dad a lot. He wanted to make sure I was settling in and getting things moved into my apartment safely and he wanted to hear about my job search and my new friends. And then there was a random 3-week period where we were both busy, me with school and him with filming his documentary. Neither of us called the other until one day I was walking home from class and I got a call from my dad. He wanted to know how I made my asparagus.
You see, we had created a little tradition with my brothers where we would have family dinner night once a week. One week we would eat at my brothers’ house and the next week I would cook for everyone at my dad’s house. It was a great way to all hang out together and make fun of dad (which inevitably happens at every family dinner) while I tried out new recipes on the fam. This is where chicken à la Kristen made its debut, chocolate-covered fruit skewers were impressively unveiled, and many a scoop of white cheddar mashed potatoes were doled out. And I made roasted asparagus.
It will make you swoon. Oftentimes, asparagus is boiled or shocked (boiled and then dunked into ice water to stop the cooking process). Both of these options take flavor from the vegetable to the water. Well, that doesn’t seem ideal. So roasting is a great option. Roasting keeps all the flavors in the vegetables which is where you want the flavor.* And if you think you don’t like asparagus, you might end up liking it this way. Spring is the best time to try it out. I got this bundle for $1 at the grocery store where they seemed to have asparagus coming out of the walls. Seriously. You can’t get better than this.
1 bundle asparagus (white or green–but look at that gorgeous green!)
drizzle of olive oil
1 tsp salt
fresh ground pepper
1 clove roasted garlic
Roasted garlic is a refrigerator must-have in my kitchen. I smash it and put it in tomato sauces, mashed potatoes, and garlic bread. And you roast it with oil so it keeps in the fridge for a quite a while. Preheat your oven to 350 and chop the top off the head of garlic. Put the garlic in a small dish (I use a super small souflée dish) and drizzle olive oil over top. I usually throw a tiny bit of salt on top to enhance the garlic flavor. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until the garlic is fragrant and soft. While you’re doing that…
Wash off the asparagus and chop off the ends. It’s actually best to snap them off because snapping ensures that you get rid of the entire woody part of the stalk. But um…I was making four things at once and taking pictures so I chopped. Sorry, world.
*See those asparagus ends? They aren’t trash! The one time you do want to boil your asparagus is when making chicken or vegetable stock. I keep those ends in a little baggy in the freezer with other scrap vegetables and leftover herbs so that next time I have some chicken bones I can throw in the contents of the bag to add more flavor. And it uses what would be trash! Win-win-win.
Get out a baking sheet (or a 9×13 pan or roasting pan) and lay out the asparagus. You can also chop the stalks into bite size pieces before roasting but I usually do that after. Drizzle the olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the salt and the fresh pepper. Now smash a clove of roasted garlic and use your hands to incorporate it and make sure the olive oil coats the asparagus evenly–including the tips which could burn if left dry. You might need to add more oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes at 350 or until the asparagus is tender.
Oh yum. They’re perfectly tender and full of flavor. It might look more impressive to serve the asparagus in full spears, but I don’t like to. I feel like an idiot trying to eat them that way and I saw once on TV that the queen of England has her chef cut them in small pieces so she and other heads of state won’t look silly with asparagus hanging out of their mouths. Logical and considerate of others. So even though I’m the opposite of fancy, I do this because I hate having asparagus hang outta my mouth as much as Tony Blair does.