Fresh and healthy sauteed asparagus with garlic and parmesan – a quick and easy, versatile side dish that’s ready in less than 15 minutes.
Happy St. Patrick’s day!! No green beer or whiskey-laced desserts today, but I do have lots of green for you in the form of one of my very favorite veggie dishes: garlic sautéed asparagus.
Simple, simple, simple. That’s how I like my asparagus, and this quick recipe is no exception.
Three ingredients – okay five, if you count salt and pepper – and about 15 minutes, are all that stand between you and truly delicious, dare I say foolproof, asparagus.
For the longest time, I avoided asparagus. I found it bitter, almost astringent at times, or worse, nearly flavorless, often cooked to oblivion. Just… lacking.
It wasn’t until a few years ago, that I saw the light – or rather, was introduced to a better cooking technique – and asparagus became totally worth its high grocery store price tag.
My Dad actually turned me on to the method of quickly cooking the asparagus over high heat with a little oil and generous seasoning, for just a few minutes. This adds a ton of flavor, and yields tender, sweet, perfect asparagus, every time. I’m hooked.
You can do the same thing in the oven – crank it up to 400-425 degrees, toss with some olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper, then roast for a few minutes until just tender – but sautéing is even faster. These babies are ready by the time my oven finishes preheating.
A few tips for foolproof sauteed asparagus:
Be choosy about the asparagus you buy. Look for vibrant, crisp and slender spears, which are naturally sweeter and more tender. Avoid the massive, tree-trunk-like, 3/4-inch diameter spears that come 10 to a bunch.
Use a large sauté pan or griddle for this – something with a large enough surface area that all of the asparagus can lay flat in an even layer while cooking.
Cook over fairly-high heat. We don’t want to fry the asparagus in the oil, but we do want the pan and oil hot enough that the asparagus cooks quickly, with the outsides just beginning to crisp. Think flash cooking.
Stir often. Keep the asparagus moving and rolling, to ensure even cooking, and to take on all that garlicky flavor.
Err on the side of al dente – we’re looking for still green, tender spears with a bit of bite left to them. A minute or two is just long enough for the most petite spears. Add another minute or so for slightly thicker asparagus.
A superfine dusting (maybe a tablespoon or so, total) of Parmesan, right at the end, just before serving, takes the asparagus from divine to sublime…