roasted asparagusPosted: May 16, 2012
I haven’t posted in quite some time. This is because the last five months or so I’ve been preparing for Ph.D. Qualifying exams (which I passed last week, hooray). I thought that I’d be able to have super time management skills, and work on the blog during breaks from reading. As it turns out, “time management” during exam prep meant reading all day, every day. Needless to say, I am glad to be done with that now.
I did almost no cooking while reading for exams, and have slowly been easing my way back in this week, while of course taking time to celebrate with friends and relax. One way I’ve been relaxing is by watching episodes of Julia Child’s The French Chef, which has made me excited to cook again. I highly recommend these for anyone who loves Julia or wants to see what cooking shows were like before the days of the Food Network – they are so refreshingly unscripted (and consequently hilarious) in comparison. She always seems to be out of breath, unsure of where to stash things when she’s through with them, and frequently forgets what she’s trying to say mid-sentence. She screws up parts of recipes, and then very helpfully explains how to save the food if you’ve made a similar mistake – something I’ve never seen on contemporary food shows. They’re great fun to watch.
In any case, in the spirit of easing back into things, today’s recipe is so simple that it hardly deserves to be typed up as a recipe. This is the great thing about eating vegetables in season – you don’t have to do much to them to make them delicious. Mark and I were having a half-conscious conversation about canned vegetables and convenience late last night while trying to fall asleep (or, what is probably closer to the truth, I was mumbling some stuff about canned vegetables and Mark was wishing I’d shut up and go to sleep already). This recipe is a reminder that cooking fresh vegetables can be very quick and easy, not to mention much tastier than anything canned – it’s as simple as tossing with olive oil and baking for fifteen minutes while you finish preparing the rest of your meal. And if you want to be a bit fancier, you can spruce things up with some lemon zest, like I did.
I’ve made this the last few nights with just asparagus, olive oil, lemon zest, and some lemon slices to squeeze over after it comes out of the oven. I think some pine nuts (thrown in the last 3-4 minutes or so of baking time, so they don’t scorch), or some freshly grated parmesan would make good additions. I served this with Sole Meunière, a crusty baguette, salad, and a few glasses of Rosé. The quantities listed below are just guidelines; add more or less seasoning as you like. The photos show a halved version of the recipe below, which will make twice as much as you see in the pictures.
Serves 4 as a side dish
1 bunch asparagus
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Zest from 2 lemons
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Lemon wedges, to serve
Preheat oven to 425 F/218 C.
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus – to do this, grasp an asparagus stalk at each end, then bend the stalk until it snaps. Throw away the bottom ends. When you’ve finished all the stalks, wash the asparagus.
Place the asparagus in a glass baking dish. Add the olive oil and toss till all the asparagus is coated with oil (feel free to use more oil if needed). Salt and pepper to taste, then sprinkle the lemon zest over the asparagus. Toss again till the seasonings are evenly distributed.
Place the asparagus on the center oven rack, and bake for 15 minutes. Serve immediately, and if you want an extra lemony flavor, squeeze a lemon wedge over each serving.