Atlanta is a tough place to be at the end of March. Everywhere you turn, the insanely beautiful dogwood trees and their musty perfume smack you upside the head. No matter how many times I pass a tree, my heart fills with joy to realize it is not sodden with snow, but rather, blossoms.
The garden sprouts! Bok choy, coming right up.
Spring is here, but where are the posts on this blog? Good question. I'd say Kate and I quite possible bit off more than we could chew the past month. Alas, unless there is some cheese being served with this wine, let move on to the recipe.
As we came into this asparagus season, I dreaded the memories of my past attempts to steam, blanche and broil these spears into submission. Must avoid mush at all costs. Luckily, that cost is pretty low when you roast tender asparagus shoots. Even thick asparagus spears can receive this treatment.
A splash of balsamic vinegar helps them continue on the path to caramelization. Choose fat or ultra thin spears, but adjust your cooking time accordingly. You may also want to first peel the especially fat ones first.
Speaking of the 384 times I use the word spear, how do you store those sharply worded (the PUNS!) spring shoots? This is my method. Straight form the store, not washed but trimmed a bit, upright in a cup with a bit of water then covered in plastic. I've heard many methods, is this the best way to go?
Balsamic Roasted Asparagus
Serves 3-4 as a side
1/2 pound asparagus
Glug of olive oil
Glug of balsamic vinegar
Salt & pepper
1. Preheat oven to at least 450°. Wash asparagus and snap the woody end of a single spear to gauge where to make your cuts across the bunch. Trimming the ends is more important to the thicker spears. You can get away with skipping this step for the the little thin ones.
2. Lay spears in a single layer across a metal roasting pan. Toss to coat with a glug of olive oil and a glug of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Roast. Watch them carefully, the thin ones will be done in five minutes, the ticker stems might be up to 10. You can take them out when a knife easily pierces the flesh, and perhaps the ends are crunchy crispy. Overcooking is your worst enemy, beware!
For some more suggestions on roasting asparagus, check the Chow boards or this Mark Bittman recipe.