Roasting asparagus may be the absolute easiest way to cook it. Just turn on the oven, put the asparagus in a pan, and 15 minutes later you have tender, grassy asparagus ready to eat. You can roast as much as asparagus as you can fit in a single layer* in a pan or baking sheet, so it's perfect to make for a crowd (especially since it's just as delicious at room temperature).
While roasted asparagus is tasty all on its own or with a simple squirt of lemon juice, you can jazz it up with a dollop of garlicky aioli or a dish of peppery rouille to dip it in for an extra treat. It's also good with green garlic pesto (another particularly spring-like delight) or a drizzle of shallot vinaigrette.
- 1 bunch asparagus (or more, as you like)
- Olive oil
- Fine sea salt
- Lemon zest and/or juice (optional but delicious)
- Heat an oven to 400°F. While the oven heats, trim the asparagus. You can either break off the tough ends where they naturally snap by grabbing both ends of an asparagus spear and bending it until it breaks, or, for a more elegant presentation, you can trim off any dried part at the end of each spear and peel the spears. However you've trimmed them, lay the asparagus spears in a single layer in a baking dish or on a baking sheet. I like to use a copper gratin dish so I can bring the roasted asparagus directly to the table and serve it in the dish, but any oven-proof vessel works.
- Drizzle the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle it lightly with sea salt. Bake the asparagus until it's tender and starting to brown at the tips, about 15 minutes.
- Sprinkle the roasted asparagus with freshly grated lemon zest and/or squirt it with fresh lemon juice, if you like. If you have a Meyer lemon, its floral aroma pairs particularly well with fresh spring asparagus.
Serve the roasted asparagus hot, warm, or at room temperature. It's true, while roasted asparagus is delicious piping hot, it's perfectly lovely even after it's cooled off a bit, making it an ideal vegetable to serve on buffets, at parties, or to bring to potlucks.
* That single layer part is important—you want the asparagus to have space to get exposed to the dry heat of the oven and really roast. If the asparagus is all piled up and jumbled together, it will steam-cook before is has a chance to brown and you're likely to overcook it.