The Joys of Spring: Lemon-Scented Roasted Asparagus

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nothing says “spring” like asparagus, and a simple roast with sea salt and lemon zest is the perfect treatment that lets this seasonal favorite shine.

Now that springtime is actually occurring here in Boston, it’s time to get on the seasonal vegetable bandwagon, beginning with asparagus.

Alas, I was told a few years back that it was very hard to grow Asparagus officinalis here in Massachusetts, thus I’ve been reliant upon the supermarket to meet my asparagus needs.

Apparently it’s easier to grow in Illinois, though, which I learned when stumbling upon these stately spears at a farmers’ market when I got local in Chicago (along with a lot of other fabulous spring produce pictured here).

Did you know that asparagus comes in purple, just like cauliflower and carrots?

AsparagusPurple_Market

Anyway, can you imagine my utter delight when I happened upon yet another new farmers’ market when wandering around town last week, and, lo and behold, there stood asparagus!

(A conversation with the farmer revealed that yes, it is difficult to grow here in The Bay State, but some are up to the task, as it turns out.)

What a treat!

Needless to say, I’ve been recently reveling in asparagus—alongside everyone else who’s been doing it for at least a month now—and I’ll share a few fanciful dishes with you soon. I begin today with the simplest, yet still elegant, rendition: lemon-scented roasted asparagus.

Lemony Roasted Asparagus

1. Prepare asparagus by removing their tough, fibrous ends. This can be done by snapping, cutting, or peeling the bottom inch or so. (You might consider taking a bite first, as the edibility of the ends varies by bunch, I’ve found. If it’s difficult to chew, spit it out. No one will know. Yeah, I do this.)

2. Toss asparagus with extra virgin olive oil, lemon zest, freshly cracked pepper, and a bit of flaky kosher or sea salt. (Crushed or sliced garlic and/or a sprinkle of parmigiana make a nice variation.)

Asparagus_GreenLemon

3. Roast at 425 degrees F for 15-25 minutes, tossing every 8 minutes or so; cooking time varies with thickness. You can tell it’s done by the deeper green color and tenderness. Don’t overcook.

Asparagus_GreenRoasted

Hate Asparagus? Learn to Love It.

If you’re a regular reader, you know how I feel about roasting vegetables and have a number of posts dedicated to this very topic, whether fall favorites like Brussels sprouts, squash, or pumpkins or the revelation that is roasted cauliflower. Quite simply, it’s just about the tastiest way you can prepare vegetables and I put them to use in endless ways, whether as simple side, exciting salad, or classy ingredient.

Don’t believe me? I’ve had numerous people on more than one occasion say “I thought I hated [Brussels sprouts or whatever], but these are so sweet and delicious!” And why would I make this up? My goal is to get you to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, after all, and you’re not going to do this if they, well, suck.

Still skeptical?

I get it.

Unfortunately, many people have been scarred by traumatic childhood experiences involving overcooked veggies boiled to hell, creating an unappetizing lump of gray mush lacking any flavor whatsoever which, incidentally, has also lost many of its nutrients. A recent conversation with a friend told me his woes of growing up on canned asparagus, which he loathed heartily. (I agree: frightening. Some vegetables just do not work out when canned.)

Until he began roasting it at home.

True story.

So if you’re not a fan of asparagus, it’s time to give it another try, and you’ll want to turn to roasting to get you started.

You just might fall in love.

Learn more about food personality and health expert Dr. PK Newby here, or her experience as a nutrition scientist, professor, and consultant here. Or click here if you just want to ogle food porn featuring plant-based, globally inspired cooking.

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Dr. P. K. Newby is a nutrition scientist, speaker, and author with expertise in all things food, farm to fork, whether preventing obesity and other chronic diseases through diet or teaching planet-conscious eating. As a health expert and food personality, she brings together her passions for food, cooking, science, and sustainability to educate and inspire, helping people eat their way towards better health, one delectable bite at a time. Because healthy food shouldn’t suck.

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