Whether you roast this asparagus on the grill or the oven, the buttery crumbs make it more delicious!
Who Doesn’t Love Asparagus?
I don’t think you’d find many people who didn’t like asparagus.
It seems to be widely available in any season these days. In my youth I remember that it was only available when it was in season–springtime. Nowadays you can find it in the store in any season. Off-season, it’s a bit pricy, but there’s plenty of great sales during the spring.
My late husband used to grow this. Trust me, you haven’t lived until you’ve picked it fresh and eaten it raw. I don’t remember how he used to cultivate it, only that he didn’t plant it every year. Eventually, it petered out and he never re-planted it.
Favorite Cooking Method
My mother used to use an old-fashioned double boiler with the insert pot inverted to cook asparagus. Mainly because back in the day there were no microwaves and no one thought of any other methods than stove-top cooking.
I would either microwave it or steam it with an insert in a large skillet. Frankly, I never thought of roasting or grilling asparagus–or any other veggie for that matter. However when roasting became a popular method for preparing vegetables, I jumped on the bandwagon and was sorry I waited so long to try this method.
Roasting gives a depth of flavor that cannot be achieved with steaming or microwaving. The reason is that the natural sugars will caramelize with either roasting or grilling since it’s a “dry” method of cooking. I literally flipped the first time I tried roasted asparagus and vowed never to cook it by any other method. It’s probably healthier too since water-soluble vitamins will not be washed away, since there’s no water involved; there’s just a bit of oil so the vitamins will still be in the asparagus.
Oh Those Crumbs!
If the roasted asparagus wasn’t delicious enough, wait till you taste it with these buttery crumbs!
You must use soft breadcrumbs for them since you won’t get the right texture using commercial crumbs and even Panko. They are flavored with fresh thyme, but it’s not overpowering. The herbal flavor is just a slight whisper that adds so much to the taste. The final crowning glory is the tiny spritz of lemon juice! It’s just the right touch to temper the richness of the crumbs.
- 2 oz. day-old bread, crust removed, or four ½-inch-thick baguette slices
- 1½ tbs unsalted butter
- ¼ tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
- Kosher salt
- 1½ lb. asparagus, trimmed
- 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tsp fresh lemon juice
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 250ºF. Put the bread in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Spread the crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until they’re dry and lightly crisped, about 20 minutes. Let cool and then grind again in the processor to get a scant ¼ cup of fine crumbs.
- Melt the butter in a skillet over moderately low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and thyme. Cook slowly, stirring often, until the crumbs are a uniform deep golden brown, about 18 min. Season with ⅛ tsp. salt and set aside to let cool. The crumbs will crisp as they cool.
- Raise the oven temperature to 450ºF. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with the olive oil. Using your hands, toss the spears to coat evenly with the oil. Season with ½ tsp. salt. Roast until the spears are tender and lightly blistered, 12 to 14 min. for medium spears. Transfer them to a platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and top with the breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.