Friday, June 19, 2009

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette and Prosciutto

Do you like asparagus?

Ask your friends this question, and half the time you'll receive a wrinkled nose as an answer. Asparagus is notorious for its aftermath aroma when one heads to the toilet after dinner; if you haven't noticed it, consider yourself lucky.

Which is too bad, because it's not only low in calories, fat and cholesterol, but a good source of folic acid, potassium and dietary fiber. And it's in season right now, which means it's deliciously juicy and sweet. Oh, and cheap.

It takes some people a great recipe in order for them to eat asparagus, and this one is a sure winner. Here I adapted a recipe from America's Test Kitchen and made it my own.

Roasted Asparagus with Lemon Vinaigrette
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

1 1/2 lb asparagus
4 T olive oil
Ground black pepper

1 lemon, cut in half
6 T extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium shallot, minced
1 t fresh thyme leaves
Ground black pepper

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
2) To prep asparagus: Often you will see recipes that say, "Snap off ends of asparagus." If you try this, not only will you snap away nearly half the asparagus, but half the money you spent on buying it (and please don't try snapping away AT the grocery store, you may never be allowed to return again). In addition, it's time consuming.

I like to take five or six stems at a time, line them up at the tips, and cut away approximately 1 1/2" or more from the stem. It's fast, efficient, and all the asparagus will now be the same length.

The trick to making them less fibrous and laborious to chew is to gently peel away the top layer of the stem. Just hold the tip of the asparagus with one hand, the vegetable peeler in the other, and start peeling about two inches from the tip, turning the asparagus as you peel. It will end up looking something like this:

Bonus: They look gorgeous!

3) When finished, place the asparagus in a baking dish or sheet pan, and toss gently with the olive oil and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. The asparagus should be lightly but completely coated in olive oil; add more if not.

4) Place the asparagus in the oven, and roast for 5-7 minutes. You don't want to overcook them, so start checking after 5 minutes! They should be tender but still have a bite. When ready, let cool.
5) Meanwhile, drizzle 1 T of olive oil onto a cast-iron skillet and heat over medium-high heat. When hot, place the lemon halves cut-side down and grill until tender and slightly blackened, about 3 minutes. Let the lemon halves cool.
6) Squeeze the lemons (you should have about 2 T of juice) and combine with the extra-virgin olive oil, minced shallots and thyme. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
7) Strain the vinaigrette into a measuring cup, then drizzle over the asparagus.

At this point, you can serve them as is! It's a great side dish for dinner.

For an elegant appetizer or a potluck dish, read on:

1 1/2 lb asparagus, dressed with lemon vinaigrette (recipe above)
12-14 slices prosciutto, halved (the short way, not the long way)

1) Allow the asparagus to marinate in the lemon vinaigrette for 15-30 minutes.
2) Drain the asparagus on a plate covered with a paper towel.
3) Carefully lay a slice of halved prosciutto on the cutting board, and place the asparagus on one end. Gently roll upwards.
4) Repeat with the rest of the asapargus/prosciutto.


kitchen witch said...

Okay, I will admit that I might eat just about anything wrapped in prosciutto. Don't hold me to that, but I do love the stuff. I love asparagus, too, and one of my favorite ways to serve it includes a vinaigrette and shaved parmesan on top of hot asparagus. Both of your recipes here look divine!

Anyway, I found you through Tastespotting and I'm writing to say that if you have any photos that aren't accepted there, I'd love to publish them. Swing by my new site (below); it's a lot of fun. I hope to see you there soon!


Kristen said...

I love asparagus and my kids do too. I grew up hating it but I think that was because my mom must not have known how to cook it ;) (No offense, Mom!)
This looks amazing.