IMG_2503As soon as I wrote it, I knew it was a problem:

I only cook them one way: briefly boiled and sautéed in something savory. There are surely other ways to do it, but sometimes when one way works it’s all you need or want!

This, from my post on asparagus a few weeks ago. It was true. It really is the only way I’d ever really cooked asparagus. But as I wrote I thought: How lame is that. A cooking teacher and chef who only cooks asparagus one way!

It spurred me to action. I resolved to roast some asparagus, allowing the dry heat to work its magic on the asparagus, concentrating its flavor and hopefully slightly charring the exterior.

Many chefs and home cooks love roasting vegetables of all types. For reasons I can’t explain, I’ve been slow to adopt that method. I cook almost all of my vegetables with moist heat on the stove top. Of course, it’s simpler on the stove top if the oven’s not on, and quicker too.

But it seemed like time to begin roasting, and asparagus is what I had. The first attempt, following a standard roasting time of about 10 minutes at 400 degrees, was only semi-successful. With our just-harvested asparagus, the cooking time was too long and the asparagus was mush, a good reminder of how even well-intentioned recipes can go astray based on faulty assumptions. A second attempt with a 5 minute cooking time was just right. With week-old asparagus the 10 minute cooking time was better, showing just how much freshness affects not only flavor but also time needed to cook.

The asparagus was delicious, more moist than I would have thought from the dry heat and perhaps not that different from boiling and sautéing, but with just a slightly different character. If the oven’s already on, you can’t beat the simplicity. Season carefully with salt and pepper and first-rate olive oil and throw in the oven, the kind of minimalistic cooking I love so much.

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