Working long hours as a prop-stylist and art-director for my company, usually means little to no time for meal prep.Still, I'm a real foodie at heart and can rarely justify fast-food or convenience food as an option for dinner (although.... you might find me with a slice or two of bacon, pineapple pizza and a big glass of Cab after a particularly grueling day on set, but don't judge.). That means I have to have an arsenal of quick, tasty and easy to prepare meals to battle the exhaustion and the temptation for that last slice of chocolate cake in the fridge. Enter asparagus.
Asparagus, to me, is one of those vegetables that really elevates any dish you put it in. There is something incredibly elegant and delicate about the flavour that I crave year round. Asparagus is really a Spring vegetable, grown primarily in the more temperate parts of Europe, the Western sea-board of the United States and in some regions of South America. It is an extremely delicate plant, and has to be harvested by hand, every day of its growing season (an entire asparagus shoot can grow to full height in less than 24-hours!) It used to be thought of as an aphrodisiac and there are recipes for it dating back to the Roman era--- how does baked asparagus with bird embryos sound?... While these recipes aren't quite as... adventurous (read gross), they are great standbys and are the perfect dish to serve to your family after a long day or for an impromptu dinner party with friends.
Oven-roasted Asparagus with Fresh herbs and Parmesan:
This is my go-to recipe for simple roasted asparagus. Its adapted from a recipe by Cookie & Kate (an awesome blog that I love to follow for food inspiration) I love the simple preparation and that I can just toss it in the oven while I prepare the rest of dinner. I like to pair this dish with things like pan-seared salmon, grilled chicken breasts or use it to top a mega salad!
Wine Pairing: A Dolcetto from Northern Italy
- 1 large bunch (about 1 pound) fresh asparagus
- 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Fresh herbs like: Parsely, mint, basil or a combination of all three.
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut woody stem ends off about 1/2 an inch from the bottom. Discard the ends.
- Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or tin-foil for easy cleanup. Place the asparagus on the sheet and drizzle with 1 to 2 teaspoons olive oil, just enough to lightly coat the asparagus. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the asparagus, and toss until the spears are lightly coated in oil. Arrange the spears in a single layer on the pan.
- Bake until the asparagus is tender and roasted about 10-12 minutes
- Transfer the roasted asparagus to a serving platter and sprinkle with chopped herbs and grated Parmesan cheese.
Lemon and Rosemary Roasted Asparagus:
This is a variation on the previous recipe and I love that it looks so lovely with the paper thin slices of lemon. This dish is as delicious as it looks and the combination of lemon and rosemary is a fresh and aromatic way of dressing up this delicate vegetable!
Wine Pairing: Alsace Riesling
1 bundle/bunch of asparagus
handful of rosemary sprigs
2-tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400-degrees F.
- Thinly slice half of lemon.
- Prep asparagus shoots, and spread them along with the lemon slices and rosemary on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Toss all with olive oil, as well as salt and pepper.
- Squeeze juice from remaining half of lemon.
- Roast in oven for 7 minutes, then carefully turn asparagus over and continue roasting for another 8 minutes. Watch for preferred done-ness. Add additional time if needed. Total roasting time should be between 15-20 minutes.
- Serve warm.
Prosciutto wrapped Asparagus with lemon zest
Everything is better with bacon, and in this case bacon's Italian cousin: prosciutto. This is a great dish to prepare as an appetizer or as a fancy side-dish for your next dinner party with friends. Salty, finely shaved prosciutto wrapped around crisp-tender asparagus is absolutely delicious add a dash of lemon zest and your halfway to epicurean super-stardom.
Wine pairing: Pinot Grigio or a Gavi di Gavi from Northern Italy.
Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
1 pound asparagus, tough ends cut away (try to get thicker asparagus, not pencil thin)
6 oz prosciutto
olive oil spray
zest from 2 lemons, about 1 tablespoon
- Wrap each piece of asparagus with 1 of the half slices of prosciutto. Wrap it starting at the bottom, and at an upward angle. (see picture in post for example).
- Repeat until all the asparagus is wrapped. You can either cook it immediately, or cover it and refrigerate until ready to cook. Will keep in the refrigerator for 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees with the oven rack in the upper third.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (not necessary, but makes for easier cleanup).
- Arrange the prosciutto wrapped asparagus in a single layer. Spray with olive oil spray.
- Roast in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the prosciutto is crispy, turning the asparagus halfway thru.
- Scatter lemon zest on top and serve warm or room temperature.
Steamed Asparagus with a fried egg
This is probably my favourite incarnation of asparagus. This is the recipe I turn to when I want something elegant, satisfying and quick. I'm a real proponent of putting a soft-fried egg on just about anything. It's gooey, delicious golden yolk is the perfect sauce to mop up with just about any vegetable, but asparagus, in my book is it's perfect partner. Paired with a few shavings of Parmesan and crispy buttered bread-crumbs, it's so yummy, you might forget you barely had to lift a finger to prepare it!
Wine suggestion: New England Sauvignon Blanc or an un-oaked Chardonnay.
6 asparagus spears, tough ends removed
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. butter
1 cup (2 oz./60 g.) bread crumbs
4 large eggs
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
- Spread the asparagus spears in a baking dish large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper. Turn the spears several times to coat them evenly with the oil. Roast, turning once or twice, until the spears are tender-crisp and their color has darkened slightly, about 15 minutes; the timing will depend on the thickness of the spears. Cover loosely with foil and set aside.
- In a small frying pan over medium-high heat, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter. When it foams, add the bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 2 minutes.
- In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter. When it foams, break the eggs into the pan, spacing them about 1 inch (2.5 cm.) apart. Reduce the heat to low and season the eggs with salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook until the whites are set and the yolks begin to firm around the edges, 5-7 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Just before the eggs are ready, divide the asparagus evenly among individual plates. Using a slotted spatula, transfer the eggs to the plates. Sprinkle the eggs and asparagus with the pancetta-bread crumb mixture, top with a light dusting of Parmesan cheese, and serve. Serves 4.
PARTING WORDS OF WISDOM:
Gourmet meals don't have to be complicated and labor intensive, they just need to be intentional. Simple, wholesome ingredients don't need much; a little love and big glass of vino can turn any dish into something worthy of savouring. So, next time your feeling beat and your reaching for the speed-dial to that favourite take-out place, remember these recipes and turn on some music, grab a glass of wine and make your kitchen a little culinary oasis.
Over at Autumn Wood Stylist HQ we're sipping a glass of Spanish Tempranillo, flipping through a fashion magazine, dreaming of beaches and saltwater. As always we're here for a quick chat, a long email or a friendly comment and we'd love to be a part of your next cookbook, photo-shoot, catalogue or product launch! Just head over to our Contact Us page and drop us a line!