In case you haven't noticed, I'm not really a fruit and veggie kind of girl. Yeah, I try to get in the proper servings of fruit and veggies each day (though I don't always succeed), but I don't really enjoy eating those good for you foods. But one vegetable I actually enjoy and I always go for seconds of is asparagus. I think asparagus has got a bad rap due to the fact that the majority of people overcook and underseason it. But its actually really delicious when its done right. Here are some tips and tricks to make sure your asparagus turns out delicious every time.
- Pick out good asparagus! Garbage in = garbage out right?! Asparagus gets bitter and tough if the stalks are thick (which is the case with most veggies - the longer you let them grow, the less tender and sweet they are). So pick the skinniest stalks of asparagus you can find. Make sure the tops of each stalk are tight and well in tact - this indicates they are fresh!
- Don't cut the ends off the stalks. This will result in woody, inedible parts being left for you to consume and those parts don't taste good. Instead, place one hand at each end of the asparagus and bend the stalk in half. The stalk will break at the point where the woody portion ends, leaving you with only the top tender part of the asparagus (don't worry if it seems to break a lot off - the woody part can actually go up to halfway up the stalk).
- Get your oven good and hot! Before you start getting your asparagus ready, preheat your oven to 450F. You want to be able to cook them hot and fast to ensure the inside doesn't get overcooked!
- Season well! Lay out your trimmed asparagus in a single layer on a large cookie sheet (line with foil for easy cleanup). Drizzle lightly (go easy here - you want this to stay healthy right?!) with olive oil. Shake the pan a little to coat the asparagus with the oil. Grind lots of fresh black pepper over the asparagus. Sprinkle with coarse salt (I used about 1/2 - 3/4 tbsp of kosher salt for 1 pan of asparagus).
- Don't over cook the asparagus! You've gone to all this work to make the perfect asparagus and now you're in the home stretch!! Place the tray into your preheated oven (see step 3) and put your timer on for exactly 5 minutes. At five minutes, pull the pan out and give it a good shake. Then rotate the pan and put back in the oven for another 5 minutes - exactly!! No more, no less.
- Finish it with a little extra flavour. If you've got any balsamic reduction, plate the asparagus and then drizzle with a tiny bit of balsamic reduction. If you want that extra decadence (though not as healthy), sprinkle with a little parmesan cheese (freshly grated of course).
This post has been linked up with Fusion Fridays at Jennifer Cooks! Head over there to check out all the amazing Superbowl treats people have baked up this week. :D
Happy Cooking my Friends!