If you haven't tried roasted asparagus before, you're definitely missing out. Roasting is just such a great way of cooking asparagus: the dry heat from the oven helps the asparagus caramelize, intensifies all the flavors, and even brings out a bit of a nutty flavor.
Roasted asparagus, or baked asparagus (it's the same thing!), definitely tastes different from boiled or steamed asparagus. In fact, it's different enough that some people who think they don't like asparagus at all might really enjoy it this way!
Depending on how long you cook it, roasted can be fresh and crispy, or warm and extra sweet. And there are so many different ways to season it, you'll never be bored. I know I've never gotten bored of it!
In this article, I'll go over everything you need to know to make delicious oven roasted asparagus. I'll start off by talking about how to prepare the asparagus. Then I'll talk about how to roast it. And finally, I'll go over a few different finishing touches you can add to make your roasted asparagus extra special.
When you're making roasted asparagus, there are a few things you need to do to get it ready for the oven. Some of it is just what you'd have to do when preparing any vegetable for cooking, but there are a few things that are particular to roasting, so read on! First, we'll talk about washing. Then, we'll go over trimming the asparagus. Finally, we'll talk about using oil and seasonings.
Before you cook your asparagus, you need to wash it. Washing gets rid of dirt, sand or chemicals that might still be on the spears. There are a few different ways to wash your asparagus.
Lukewarm water is best for cleaning vegetables. It's much better at getting dirt off than cold water!
Once the asparagus spears are clean, gently pat them dry. If they're still wet, they may not roast properly – the water will turn into steam, and prevent you from getting nicely browned roasted asparagus.
Asparagus is one of the easiest vegetables to prepare. The only part you need to trim off is the tough end, because it can get woody and stringy as the asparagus ages. It's not bad for you, but it's not very pleasant to eat!
There are two way to trim off the tough, woody ends.
If you have very thick asparagus, you can also peel the base instead of breaking it off. A lot of times it's just the outside that's tough, and the inside is just fine, perfectly tender. It doesn't work as well with thin asparagus though, because there's so little left after peeling!
Sometimes, it can feel like you're trimming off quite a bit of that yummy asparagus... but it doesn't have to go to waste! You can use the trimmed bits in a vegetable stock to add some nutrients and flavor, without having to actually eat the tough, stringy parts.
Unlike some other methods for cooking asparagus, you need a bit of oil for roasting. Why? Well, roasting is a dry heat cooking method, which means moisture gets sucked out of the vegetables. If too much of that happens, your asparagus might look limp and lifeless after roasting.
A bit of oil helps protect it against drying out, keeping it much fresher looking. And it also help the asparagus brown nice and evenly, giving it a nicely spread out caramelization.
Both olive oil or vegetable oil work great, so use whichever you prefer. Olive oil has a slightly different taste, but it goes great with asparagus. Just use about a teaspoon per pound of asparagus, and toss the asparagus in the oil to make sure it's evenly coated.
You don't actually need any seasonings to make roasted asparagus. With just a bit of oil, your roasted asparagus will be very yummy. But seasonings do let you add more complex and interesting flavors, so that you'll never get bored! Here are a few different seasoning you can add.
Once you've picked your seasonings, just add them to the asparagus, and toss to spread the seasonings evenly.
There are so many possibilities for seasonings... just mix and match, try different things. You'll end up with a whole new dish every time! And you can choose seasoning that will complement the rest of your meal, too.
Once your asparagus is washed, trimmed, and coated with a bit of oil or seasonings, you're ready to roast! It's really super simple.
Here's how you do it.
Preheat the oven to 400F.
It's the perfect temperature for roasting. It lets the asparagus cook through, but still brown on the outside.
Place the asparagus in a baking dish. It should be big enough to hold all the asparagus in single layer.
You don't want to overcrowd the asparagus. If you do, the steam escaping from the asparagus will become trapped, and end up steaming your asparagus. And then you won't end up with the nice caramelization you get from roasting.
If you like, you can line the dish with foil to limit cleanup. But I find that with the oil coating, nothing really sticks, so it's easy cleanup either way!
Roast the asparagus in the preheated oven until it's cooked to your liking. Keep an eye on the tips – they'll cook faster, so you want to make sure they don't burn. You can shake the pan once or twice to make sure nothing is sticking.
Thin spears might be cooked in as little as 5 minutes if you like them still pretty crisp, but can take up to 15 minutes if you like them soft.
Thicker spears can take anywhere from 10 to 25 minutes to cook, depending on how cooked you like them. If you prefer your roasted asparagus soft, leave it in longer!
You can test how done the asparagus is by poking it with a knife, or by taking a little bite.
Serve, and enjoy! You can serve the asparagus as soon as it's cooked, or let it cool to room temperature. It'll be delicious either way. Keep in mind that the asparagus will continue to cook a bit after you take it out of the oven, so it'll get a bit softer. You can plan for that by taking it out a minute or two earlier.
And that's how to make roasted asparagus. At this point, you're ready to serve, but there are a few finishing touches you can add. Just check out the next section for some ideas.
Once the asparagus is cooked, you can add some finishing touches to make the dish even more special. Here are a few ideas:
And that's all you need to know about making roasted asparagus! It's simple, takes 5 minutes to prepare, but it can be an extremely elegant dish for any crowd. It's great to impress when you don't have a lot of time, or just to enjoy with your family.