Asparagus In The Oven
Asparagus is one of our favorite vegetables when the markets start to fill up in the spring. The crisp, tender stalks are one of the first spring produce items to arrive in produce baskets.
Whether for brunch or dinner, roasted asparagus is a delicious springtime side dish.
How do you know when asparagus is done in the oven? Because asparagus cooks easily, you won’t have a hard time deciding when it’s finished. As long as you don’t burn it, it’s almost impossible to overcook it. The color should be dark bright green, and the texture should be slightly crunchy to the bite.
You can make your roasted asparagus as plain or as complex as you want. Below is the basic recipe.
Roasting the Perfect Asparagus
Asparagus roasting is a simple and fast process. Toss the asparagus with a thin drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper before serving. For easy cleanup, I use a big, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
1 pound asparagus spears
1-2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly grated black pepper
Lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
1. Prep the asparagus
Asparagus ends can be tough and woody. Sharply bend the asparagus near the base to extract certain bits. Then the asparagus will snap in the proper place. I believe this would be a fun dinnertime project for kids.
2. Preheat oven and prep asparagus
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rinse the asparagus spears to clean them. If the ends are rough, break them off and save them for stock or throw them away. Remove the rough outer skin of the asparagus’s fatter ends with a vegetable peeler if desired.
3. Drizzle asparagus using olive oil, pepper, salt, and garlic
Cover a roasting pan with foil. Then, place the asparagus spears in a single layer on the parchment-lined roasting pan. Drizzle olive oil over the spears and rub them all over to coat them.
To evenly distribute the seasonings, rub the asparagus spears with salt, pepper, and minced garlic.
4. Roast in the oven
Roast for 10 minutes or until the asparagus is lightly brown and soft when pierced with a fork. The oven should be at 400°F (205°C), depending on your oven and how thick the spears are.
5. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or lemon juice to serve
Drizzle with balsamic vinegar or fresh lemon juice and a sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese, if you want.
The Advantage of Roasting Asparagus
Roasting asparagus rather than cooking it on the stove has the benefit of needing little attention. Start by roasting a tray of asparagus before moving on to the rest of your meal.
It also gives you a considerable amount of control. If you want your asparagus well done, tender, and slightly crisped on the ends, this is the recipe for you.
Or maybe you like your asparagus raw. It’s easy to get the texture you want without going overboard.
Why You Should Avoid Overcooking Asparagus
You can prepare asparagus in a variety of ways. It is important not to overcook the asparagus, regardless of the process used.
When asparagus is overcooked, the taste is lost, and the texture becomes mushy. Just cook it until it’s crisp-tender.
Do Not Overcook Asparagus
Steaming, boiling, sauteing, roasting, grilling, and microwaving are the most common cooking methods for asparagus. According to the size and freshness of the asparagus you’re cooking, the cooking time can vary.
To ensure that your asparagus does not become overcooked, check for crisp-tender doneness. Below are some more asparagus tips.
- A pound of fresh asparagus yields 16 to 20 spears, 3 cups of trimmed asparagus, or 2 1/2 cups of cooked asparagus.
- You may want to keep asparagus for longer than three days. If you do, store it loose so that air can circulate through the spears and prevent mold from forming.
- Trim the ends of the stalks. Position the stalk side down in a glass filled with 1 1/2 to 2 inches of cold water. Cover with a plastic bag and chill for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- Do not use iron pots when cooking asparagus. Asparagus reacts to iron, causing the spear and the iron pot to discolor.
Tips for Better Asparagus Serving
Asparagus cooked using any method intended to be served in whole/mostly-whole stalks should have the following characteristics after cooking. But this does not always apply to, say, an asparagus puree or paste or a soup.
- Not grey or very light green. It should still be bright green or vibrant green.
- To the bite, it’s always a little crunchy—not mushy, but not quite raw.
- The bitter part of the flavor that occurs in the raw state should be eliminated during cooking. It should have a grassier, nuttier taste.
- The asparagus flesh can no longer contain tough fibers and be difficult to cut with a dinner knife.
- The asparagus stalk must still be able to snap when bent to the extreme with the hands. It should not be able to bend fully without splitting (in which case it is overcooked).
Depending on the cooking process, the heat level, and the individual equipment, this state can take different amounts of time to achieve.
Is Asparagus Better Thick or Thin?
You might think that thinner asparagus spears are more tender and therefore easier to eat. Thinner isn’t always better, according to Cook’s Illustrated (which performs rigorous research on various foods).
Because the fiber in thicker asparagus is more evenly distributed, it is more tender. Thicker spears stand up better to grilling and roasting than thinner spears.
Can You Eat the Whole Asparagus Spear?
For the woody stem near the bottom, you may consume the whole spear. Each end of the asparagus spear should be firmly grasped.
Bend the asparagus gently away from you so that it bows out. Bend the asparagus until it snaps. It will snap naturally, causing the woody stem to break off. Discard the portion and eat the top portion, which includes the head.
The degree of being cooked will vary on how you like your asparagus. Once you rinse and cut the asparagus, you can eat it. If you have to cook using the oven, it is ready to turn a bright dark green color.