March 01, 2007

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon and Olive Oil

1 lb fresh asparagus
1 lemon
2 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt

Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with foil. Drizzle the olive oil in the middle of the sheet. Break of any tough bottoms on the asparagus*. Place on the baking sheet and roll them around in the oil. Sprinkle with the kosher salt. Zest a lemon over the asparagus. Bake about 6 minutes or until the spears are bright green and tender, but not browned**. Serve immediately.

*An easy way to do this: hold an end in each hand. Bend the spear gently from the bottom, and the tough part will break right off where it meets the edible part.
**I like to take them out of the oven before the asparagus browns so avoid them drying out the tiniest bit. You can leave them in there longer but I don't think they are a vegetable (at least not when served on their own) that benefits from any sort of carmelization.

My thoughts:

This is my absolute favorite way to eat asparagus. If you fed it even to a hardened asparagus critic, I bet they'd love it. The asparagus is so bright, tender, crisp and the flavors are clear and simple. It is like Spring on a plate. To make it even easier, they are sort of self-saucing, their juices, the lemon zest, salt and olive oil mingle together while baking to form a light sauce that clings to the spears when you remove them from the pan.