One of the best perks of late spring and early summer cooking is that so many dishes are quick and simple– there’s isn’t much fussing or preparation time. This is a good thing– especially if you have little ones either underfoot or begging to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. And even if you don’t have to keep one eye on the kids while you cook, who wants to spend these longer, warm days in the kitchen? I know I sound like a skipping record, but I happen to be delighted that summer produce is starting to appear. Aside from the fresh seasonal flavors, it’s easy– and that means more playtime.
This week, it’s time for asaparagus! Yes, that sentence was worthy of an exclamation point. You see, asaparagus isn’t around for long, so when it arrives, I go all out. I have several simple asparagus dishes that I make this time of year. This gorgeous tart is one of my favorites. And this one, which combines two fantastic seasonal ingredients– asparagus and morels, still makes me swoon. But the best of all is the dish in today’s post- roasted asparagus with balsamic browned butter. It is, unquestionably, my favorite way to prepare asparagus.
I first made this dish years ago for my in-laws. They loved it enough that they started preparing asparagus this way, too. I think the chances are better than average that you’ll do the same. This side is perfect because it relies on a simple flavor combination. Browned Butter, balsamic vinegar, and soy sauce. That’s it. These three ingredients pack an amazing punch. So much so, that you don’t want your asparagus swimming in the sauce. Less is more, here.
A word or two about the preparation of the asparagus. First, use fresh seasonal asparagus. Don’t get me started on that asparagus you often see year-round in some grocery stores and restaurants. Those oversized, tough, tasteless, shoots are not what I’m talking about. Asparagus should be enjoyed when it was meant to be– for those few weeks in spring when it’s fresh and tastes amazing. When looking for asparagus at the market, look for the tops of them to be tight and closed. This indicates they were recently harvested. Asparagus should be eaten as soon as possible after you buy it, as the flavor dissipates pretty quickly. Also, I don’t follow the school of thought that you should snap huge chunks off the bottom of the stem to avoid the “woody” portion. Instead, I simply use a vegetable peeler and peel the bottoms. It becomes just as tender as the top section and you avoid wasting a fair amount. Hope you enjoy this dish!
The Recipe: Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Browned Butter
1 pound asparagus
olive oil, to drizzle
cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
toasted, sliced almonds, optional
shaved lemon zest, optional
Preheat an oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
Wash and dry the asparagus. Cut off the very bottoms with a sharp knife. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the bottom 1-inch to 1 1/2 -inch. Toss the asparagus with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Place on the baking sheet and roast for about 12 minutes, or until tender.
Meanwhile, place the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Stirring frequently, melt the butter until it is a deep golden brown, about 3 minutes. Be careful not to burn it. Remove from heat and add the soy sauce and vinegar to the pan. Mix it together well with a wooden spoon, making sure to incorporate any brown bits in the butter.
Place the asparagus on a serving platter and pour the balsamic browned butter over the top. Sprinkle with toasted almonds and a bit of shaved lemon zest. Serve immediately. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from Cooking Light
Thanks for stopping in — have a wonderful weekend!