I know, I know … “it’s spring and that means asparagus season! ” (**yawn** and – may as well say it – duh).
For the past several years at our house, we’ve generally prepared asparagus (and most other vegetables for that matter) by placing the spears in a glass baking dish, tossing them with olive oil, salt, pepper and a little parmesan cheese then roasting them in the oven. It’s a nice preparation; when they’re done they have sort of a nutty taste and it gives them a little bit of crunch around the edges.
They taste good this way, and it’s easy, but they’re not exactly beautiful looking. Also, when you roast them, it’s easy to get a little heavy handed with the olive oil. Since they can burn easily if they’re not well coated there is the tendency to go “EVOOverboard”. So they can turn out a little oily and heavy, not the best way to showcase their delicate flavor.
I’ve got another easy preparation for you that I think better preserves the beautiful green color, the bright taste and the natural crunch of asparagus. Also, since they are dressed at the very end, it’s a bit easier to exercise some restraint in the olive oil department. Another bonus is they can be eaten hot, warm or at room temperature whereas the roasted asparagus really need to be eaten right when they come out of the oven.
Asparagus is a notoriously difficult wine pairing challenge. I’d recommend ignoring it completely by just pairing your entree with a wine. Otherwise try a bright lemony herbal sauvignon blanc.
Steamed Lemony Asparagus
•1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
•2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
•2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
•1 teaspoon lemon zest
•Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.
Place the asparagus in a steamer basket within a large pot of a few inches of rapidly boiling water. Put the lid on the pot and steam for 3 minutes then remove from heat. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.