There is nothing more quintessentially spring than asparagus (or Crocus buds or Daffodils) so when Winter is looming on my doorstep I retreat to Spring foods to make me feel warm from the inside out. Roast Asparagus Spears can be a pleasant side dish to almost any main course and it’s vegan. The recipe itself is straightforward not needing any additional sauce or dressing before serving.
I am fascinated by foods, such as asparagus, that withstand the test of time and trends. Its existence in the Mediterranean during ancient times secured its popularity with ancient Greeks and Romans, and early Egyptians. The Greeks named the sprouting green for its tendency to be the first to shoot up from the ground each spring. The same goes for asparagus today, since we all know that its arrival in our local market means spring is here!
I’m sure you can solicit equally sage asparagus-related advice from the manager of your local produce department but in case you’re not much for asking directions here’s what I know. Be selective when shopping for asparagus. Just like cut flowers, once trimmed from the plant, asparagus will begin to dry, wilt, and fade. Look at the bottom of the spear to see if the end is freshly cut or if it is dried out. The thickness of each spear matters less than the freshness.
Once you’ve chosen your favorite bunch of asparagus, you should pamper it a bit. Asparagus reminds me of African Violets, which are often thought to be a challenge, but really they take care of themselves. Just as you leave water for the violets to drink, you need to provide water for the asparagus to replenish its lost moisture. I always place the bottom ends (not the tips) into a jar with almost an inch of water, and cover them with a plastic bag. Refrigerate the spears in the warmest part of the fridge for up to two days. Nothing horrible will happen after two days (they won’t turn poisonous), but the flavor will deteriorate and the texture will be tougher. I recommend the warmest part of the fridge because sometimes there are very cold sections that reach frosty temperatures. After all, asparagus sprouts after the last frost to avoid such unpleasantness.
Preparing the spears for cooking is fairly simple. Some cooks slice off the bottom portion, but I prefer to let the asparagus tell me where it needs to be trimmed. To do this, hold the top half of an asparagus spear in one hand and the bottom half between the thumb and forefinger of the other hand. Bend the spear gently until it breaks. The spear will snap where the tough part of the stalk begins. You can break all the spears individually, or cut the rest about the same length as the one you have broken. The ends can be used to make vegetable stock or added to your compost.
Roast Garlicky Asparagus Spears
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound of asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
2 teaspoons garlic salt
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a small bowl, mix the minced garlic with the olive oil.
3. Arrange the asparagus spears in one layer on a baking sheet or oven-safe platter. Brush them with the garlic olive oil. Evenly sprinkle the garlic salt over the spears.
4. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, or until tender. The time varies with the thickness of the spear.
5. Serve warm.