In the true spirit of Sheri Castle’s The New Southern Garden Cookbook (Univ. of North Carolina, May), which is organized alphabetically by type of vegetable or fruit, “building on the premise that when cooking with fresh produce, the ingredient, not the recipe, is the wiser starting point,” I let a trip to the farmers’ market determine what I’d make. I was near-ecstatic to see bundles of asparagus there, finally! Oftentimes simple is best with in-season local produce, so I went with the Blasted Asparagus, which calls for drizzling the spears with olive oil, sprinkling them with salt and pepper, and roasting them at high heat for just five minutes. Normally I wouldn’t think of turning my oven up to 475˚F because the smoke alarm goes off, but I figured I could stand the beeping if it was for such a short time. I’m glad I did it; the asparagus was just perfect, bright green and crisp, but unmistakably roasted and browned in spots. I dipped some of the spears in a flavored mayonnaise, as Castle suggests, but they were even better plain. This method’s a definite keeper.
Blasted Asparagus from The New Southern Garden Cookbook: Enjoying the Best from Homegrown Gardens, Farmers’ Markets, Roadside Stands, and CSA Farm Boxes by Sheri Castle
Makes 4 to 6 servings
1 ½ pounds asparagus spears
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 475˚F.
2. Snap off and discard the tough ends of the asparagus. Arrange the spears in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with the oil and roll the spears back and forth to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
3. Roast until crisp-tender and browned in spots, about 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears. Serve hot or at room temperature.