Asparagus is a great spring produce that can be used for cooking main course as well as side dishes. Asparagus are available in a number of varieties from the hardy green ones, to the delicate white ones and of course, the exotic purple asparagus. Whichever variety of asparagus that you choose, make sure that you employ the right cooking method. You also need to choose fresh organic asparagus that has tightly closed tips and whose stalks are firm to get the best flavor in the dish.
Asparagus can be cooked in a number of ways, steamed, stir fried, grilled and sautéed. One of the best ways to prepare asparagus is by roasting them in an oven. But many people are intimidated with the idea of cooking asparagus in the oven, fearing that they will over cook them. Although overcooking asparagus is a major concern, it should not stop you from preparing asparagus in the oven. Here we are going to discuss how to cook asparagus in the oven that tastes flavorsome.
Cooking Asparagus in the Oven with Olive Oil
When cooking asparagus in the oven, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. Roasting asparagus in the oven gives it a nice caramelized flavor, but you need to make sure that you do not overcook it. Asparagus should be roasted only up to that point where it still retains it crunch and texture. Overcooked asparagus tastes mushy and very unappetizing, so keep a check on the oven timer.
Now to cook asparagus in the oven, you need to first clean the asparagus and trim its ends. Just take an asparagus spear in your hand and snap it at a point where the stalk is naturally tough. Snap the rest of the asparagus in the same way. Trim the ends of the asparagus stalk with a vegetable trimmer. If the stalks are not too thick, then you need not trim them at all. Now place all the trimmed asparagus spears inside a plastic bag and add two tablespoons of garlic infused olive oil and half a tablespoon of sea salt.
Seal the plastic bag and shake the contents to coat the asparagus evenly with the oil and salt. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil and place the oil and salt coated asparagus into the baking tray. Arrange the asparagus spears in such a way that they are in a single layer. This will ensure that the asparagus cook evenly. Now place the baking tray inside the preheated oven and bake them for 10-12 minutes at 375º F.
Cooking Asparagus in the Oven with Butter
Another way to cook asparagus in the oven is by using butter instead of olive oil. Although butter is more fattening, there are times when you want to treat yourself. For a special dinner party, serve oven roasted asparagus with lemon butter as a side dish.
To make this recipe, first clean and trim the asparagus spears and place them aside. Melt 1 tablespoon of plain unsalted butter and pour it into a small bowl. Add one tablespoon of lemon zest into the melted butter and one tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Mix all the ingredients together so that the flavors infuse harmoniously. Now take a large baking tray and coat it with cooking spray. Arrange the trimmed asparagus into the tray and drizzle it with the lemon butter that you had made earlier. Slow cook in a 375º F oven for 8-10 minutes until the asparagus spears are cooked through. Remove tray from oven and sprinkle the cooked asparagus spears with sea salt and freshly ground pepper before serving.
If you are wondering how long do you cook asparagus in the oven, then anything between 8-12 minutes is sufficient. It really depends upon the thickness of the spears. If the spears are very thin, then 6-7 minutes is sufficient for cooking them. Anything over that will quickly turn it mushy. Cooking asparagus in the oven is one the easiest way to prepare them. So give it a try!