Sunday, October 4, 2009

Oven Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Zest

Here's a piece of trivia for you- asparagus spears can grow up to ten inches in twenty four hours. Ten inches! Isn't that amazing? Who knows, maybe you'll win a Trivial Pursuit game with that piece of knowledge. I'm really tempted to plant some asparagus next summer so I can witness this for myself but I don't have a green thumb so it probably won't happen. I'm really terrible with plants. My house is the place where plants come to die.

Asparagus is a really versatile vegetable that goes well with almost any entree. You can't ever go wrong with a side of steamed asparagus, seasoned with a pinch of kosher salt. I'm a big fan of steaming vegetables because it's a quick, low-fat method of cooking that retains nutrients but there's only so many days in a row that you can eat steamed veggies without getting a little bit bored. Oven roasting vegetables can break that monotony. Thicker asparagus fair especially well in the oven because they're really dense so they can stand up to the heat. The thinner asparagus that are about the diameter of a pencil also roast up well but they tend to get too crispy at the ends so you need to watch them carefully to make sure they aren't drying out too much and burning.

This is my go-to roasted asparagus recipe and you can switch it up a ton of different ways to suit your mood. Like most roasted vegetables, the addition of a little garlic or chopped fresh herbs would not be frowned upon. So root around your fridge and see what you have. If you want garlic, mix in a couple of sliced cloves before you slip the pan into the oven. If you're planning to sprinkle on some fresh herbs, do it when you add the lemon zest at the end so that the flavors stay fresh and vibrant.

Try this asparagus with some poached eggs and hot buttered toast for an easy, elegant lunch.

printer friendly recipe

1 pound asparagus, which is usually one bunch
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
zest of one lemon
big pinch of good quality salt (I like to use Hawaiian pink salt but kosher salt is good too)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Trim the woody ends of the asparagus.

Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Sprinkle the olive oil and lemon juice or vinegar over the asparagus. Gently shake the pan back and forth so that all of the pieces are coated.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are tender, but still a bit crisp.

Place the asparagus on a serving platter.

Sprinkle the lemon zest over the top.

Serves 4.

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