Tuesday, March 25, 2008

March 25: Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Toasted Garlic

It is not exactly an exaggeration for me to say that garlic is one of my favorite things in the world. Nothing says comfort food to be like a big bowl of linguine tossed with a mixture of olive oil, crushed red pepper flakes, about eleven cloves of minced sauteed garlic, and topped with a handful of toasted panko bread crumbs tossed with Italian seasoning. Then I smell like garlic for two days and my husband wants to know if I'm trying to ward off a Romanian vampire, or just him. What I'm not telling him is, the pasta's totally worth it.

What I don't love: asparagus. It's just one of those acquired tastes that I never managed to acquire. Maybe it was that my mother liked asparagus boiled to a grey slimy mass. Or, maybe it's just that asparagus tastes like old gym socks to me.

However, I acknowledge its popularity. I appreciate that I'm in the minority when it comes to this spring vegetable. I'll even stink up my house making it for my husband who loves it. But from now on, I'm making it this way, to distract me from the fact that it's, you know, asparagus. I will probably even take a bite of it. Unfortunately the new prescription drug is continuing to make everything with more than two ingredients in it taste like a cocktail of gefilte fish and butterscotch pudding, so I won't like it or anything. But hey, I'm a sport.

Use big fat asparagus, or it'll overcook. If all you can get are the sweet little petite things, then reduce the cooking time by 3 or 4 minutes.

Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan and Toasted Garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium cloves garlic, sliced thin
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds thick asparagus spears, ends trimmed
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

1. Heat the olive oil and sliced garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until garlic is crisp and golden but not dark brown, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer garlic to paper towel-lined plate.

2. Add the butter to the oil in the skillet. When butter has melted, add half of asparagus to skillet with tips pointed in one direction; add remaining spears with tips pointed in one direction. Using tongs, distribute spears in even layer (spears will not quite fit into single layer); cover and cook until asparagus is bright green and still crisp,about 5 minutes.

3. Uncover and increase heat to high; season asparagus with salt and pepper. Cook until spears are tender and well browned along one side, 5 to 7 minutes, using tongs to occasionally move spears from center of pan to edge of pan to ensure all are browned. Transfer asparagus to serving dish, sprinkle with grated Parmesan and toasted garlic, adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

1 comment:

Kimberly said...

I love asparagus, but I too had to overcome my mother's version of it, which was invariably canned asparagus covered in Velveeta. Done wretching yet? I think Mom was actually shocked to learn that you could buy asparagus fresh.