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~ Amazingly-Lemony & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus ~

IMG_1940When I was growing up, fresh asparagus was a delicacy, meaning, my family only ate it in the Spring, mostly for holidays and special occasions, or, when we reserved a table at a fancy restaurant --  restaurants had more access to it than the average American family during that era. That said, even in the restaurants back in the 1960's and '70's, it was always of the pencil-thin type, and, it was served either lightly steamed or briefly blanched.  Thinking back, I suppose it was because these methods enhanced its color, which made for a prettier presentation.  Indeed it tasted wonderful, but, years later, circa the 1980's, when roasting vegetables and vegetable medleys became trendy, I came to realize how roasting it elevated its flavor and texture.

For even roasting choose asparagus of even thickness.

Before preparing this super-simple side-dish, please note that when it comes to roasting asparagus, thick spears work the best (thin ones, not so much).  Why?  Read on.  Thin spears can and will dry out too quickly in the required high, 425º oven heat, which can and will render them tough and stringy.  It matters not how many asparagus spears you roast, as long as they're even-sized and lined up, side-by side, in a single layer on a baking pan.  All they require is a light coating of lemon-infused olive oil (the flavor explosion from it is delightful), some freshly-ground sea salt and black pepper or a peppercorn blend, and, 9-10 minutes of time to roast.  Tick, tock.

IMG_19121/2  pound thick asparagus, trimmed of woody stalk ends, about 12 spears after trimming

3  thin slices prosciutto, each sliced into 4 long strips (optional)

12-24 grape tomatoes (optional)

3-4  tablespoons high-quality lemon-infused olive oil

freshly-ground sea salt, 20-25 grinds

freshly-ground black pepper or peppercorn blend, 20-25 grinds 

IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913 IMG_1913~Step 1.  Line an appropriately-sized baking pan with aluminum foil.  Arrange asparagus, side by side, slightly apart and in a single layer on pan.  If inclined, wind half or all spears with one long thin strip of prosciutto each.  If you like grape tomatoes add them to the sides of pan too.  Neither prosciutto or tomatoes affect the recipe or roasting time -- use them or don't, your choice.  Drizzle 3-4 tablespoons lemon infused olive oil over all.  Using a pastry brush, lightly paint and dab the olive oil between and across the surface of the spears, and the optional tomatoes.  Season generously with freshly ground sea salt and pepper.

IMG_1934 IMG_1934~ Step 2.  Roast on center rack of preheated 425º oven (or toaster oven for a small batch like I am making today) for 9-10 minutes.  Asparagus will be fork tender and tomatoes will be blistered. Remove from oven and serve immediately.

Gently plate & serve immediately...

IMG_1938... w/roasted or grilled poultry, fish, seafood &/or pasta. 

IMG_1953Amazingly-Simple & Perfectly-Roasted Asparagus:  Recipe yields 2-4 servings.

Special Equipment List:  appropriately-sized baking pan; aluminum foil, pastry brush

IMG_1895Cook's Note:  When it comes to cooking asparagus via any method, freshness always matters more than thickness, and, even the best asparagus recipes are subject to failure if this delicate vegetable isn't treated with care. ~ Choosing, Prepping and Storing Amazing Asparagus ~ is a must read for anyone who's looking to get acquainted with this seasonal but very versatile vegetable.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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