How to Cook Asparagus in the Oven
If you're looking for a simple, quick and delicious vegetable for a week-night dinner, roasted asparagus is always a good bet. Roasting brings out asparagus' natural savory flavor, yields a crispy, creamy texture, and takes only about 20 minutes to come together. Check out below for everything you need to know about oven-roasting perfect asparagus every time.
Table of contents
- What to Look Out For When Buying Asparagus
- How to Season Your Asparagus
- How to Roast Your Asparagus
- How to Serve Roasted Asparagus
Oven-roasting is one of the most delicious ways to prepare asparagus. It eliminates the natural bitterness of this nutrient-rich vegetable, while enhancing and deepening its natural nutty flavor and yielding a perfect texture every time: crispy on the outside, while smooth, succulent and slightly creamy on the inside. It’s also incredibly easy both to prepare and cook.
What to Look Out For When Buying Asparagus
At the market, look for asparagus that’s firm and can stand up straight on its own. Wilted or limp stalks means the asparagus is older and won’t have as rich a flavor. You’ll also want to take a close look at the tips of the asparagus, which should be closed, narrow and hard. If the asparagus tip is soft or starting to open up, this is another sign the vegetable is past its peak.
To prepare asparagus for roasting, simply run your stalks under some water, careful to scrub the whole vegetable down to ensure you get all of the dirt and grit. Next, you’ll want to remove the touch lower stalk, which has a dense, woody flavor and consistency that isn’t appetizing. This is easily accomplished by simply holding the asparagus at each end and bending it until it snaps-- the stalk will naturally break off where the hard lower portion ends. Then simply towel dry, and your asparagus is ready to cook.
How to Season Your Asparagus
Roasting brings out the natural, earthy and deeply savory notes of the asparagus, so you won’t have to add a ton of seasoning to bring out the flavor. The most integral additional ingredient will be olive oil-- too little and your asparagus will burn in the oven, while too much will yield too soft a flavor and the loss of any of those scrumptious crispy bites. As a rule of thumb, just add enough olive oil to fully coat each asparagus, but make sure there’s no excess oil on the ban or baking sheet.
If you want to add additional herbs to your dish, however, you should feel free to do so. Mint, oregano, parsley or basil all pair beautifully with the asparagus’ natural flavor, while a squeeze of lemon juice can easily brighten up your dish and enhance the natural smokiness from the roasting. Garlic also goes extremely well with roasted asparagus. Just a teaspoon of minced raw garlic tossed in with your asparagus on the roasting sheet adds tons of savory flavor.
And above all, remember to generously season your asparagus with some kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste before throwing it in the oven.
How to Roast Your Asparagus
- Preheat your oven to 425 °F.
- Line a roasting pan with foil and place your asparagus in the pan. You can crowd the asparagus a bit more than you would other types of vegetables, as each stalk doesn’t need a ton of space to cook through. Just make sure there is a bit of space between each spear and try to get as many of them to touch the side of the pan as possible, as this is where much of the browning occurs that yields the delicious crispy bits.
- Drizzle the asparagus with just enough olive oil to coat each spear, approximately 2 tablespoons. Add salt and pepper to taste, about 1 teaspoon each, and any other herbs you’ll be adding to the dish. Toss with your hands, ensuring each stalk is covered with olive and oil and seasoning around.
- Cooking time will vary a bit depending on the thickness and length of your asparagus, but aim for around 12-15 minutes. You’ll know your asparagus are ready when the spears are slightly toasted looking, the spears are lithe brown in hue and the stalk is fork-tender.
- Toss with a bit more olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and finish with a squeeze of lemon for a fresh bite.
How to Serve Roasted Asparagus
There are a ton of delicious and diverse ways you can prepare and serve your roasted asparagus. They’re delicious for breakfast, thrown in omelettes, frittatas or quiches, such as our Herb Omelette with Green Asparagus and Ham or our Asparagus Frittata with Smoked Trout.
For lunch or dinner, oven-roasted asparagus makes a perfect appetizer or side next to red or gamey meats like lamb, steak or duck, poultry like turkey or chicken or an array of fish dishes. Asparagus goes particularly well with salmon.
The good thing about oven-roasted asparagus is that you can easily dress it up however you like to pair with whatever you’re serving it with. Try adding crunch with slivers of toasted almonds or hazelnuts, add some sweetness with orange wedges, pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and even transform your oven-roasted asparagus into a light but delicious lunch with the addition of a creamy hollandaise sauce and a poached egg.
However you choose to serve your oven-roasted asparagus, you’re sure to have a delicious, healthy and simple-to-make meal in no time.