You should eat some asparagus this Spring. And they can be so much better than a lot of restaurants make them. April to June is the typical growing season and the best time to eat them–since you can find them with tender stalks and vibrant green colors. Thicker, older stems produce a woody and much tougher vegetable. They are a great source of vitamin B6, calcium, iron, and zinc and an excellent source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K and folic acid. The most significant issue I find with this versatile vegetable is that chefs often overcook them. My goal is always to make them tender but with an unmistakable crunch.
A recipe for asparagus is in the oldest surviving cookbook, Apicius’s third-century AD De re coquinaria Bool III. In a nutshell, asparagus have been around a very long time. While I enjoy a lightly roasted asparagus straight up, I think asparagus often benefit from a little bit of love and attention to bring out their best flavor. This recipe does just that. Garlic and lemon zest complement the earthy flavor without overpowering the vegetable itself. From a nutritional perspective, asparagus are naturally low in calories. Need more convincing on the health benefits of asparagus, be sure to check out “10 Reasons You Should Eat More Asparagus” on the website Health.
Oven Roasted Asparagus with Gremolata Butter
- 2 pounds asparagus, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon zest
- juice of 1/2 lemon
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Step 1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Step 2 Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the trimmed asparagus on the baking sheet and set aside.
- Step 3 In a small sauté pan, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
- Step 4 Add the lemon zest and garlic and cook while stirring for about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice.
- Step 5 Pour the butter mixture over the asparagus and lightly toss the asparagus to coat.
- Step 6 Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Step 7 Roast in the oven for 20 minutes until tender but still crisp. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
- Step 8 Sprinkle with fresh parsley and serve warm.