So I sat down to write this post on Friday night, but I couldn't. Try as I might, I could not honestly talk about the clean spring taste of asparagus when I had just busted my gut that evening. I organized a pot luck, like I never have before; and if I do so again, it is going to be a while before can do it again in good conscience. I had read in one of Michael Pollan's books that if you took the real time it takes to make junk food you should be entitled to eat it, since you will rarely take the effort to make such a thing.
So, we challenged ourselves and took to the kitchen. There were homemade twinkies, hostess cupcakes, oreos, wonder bread, macaroni and cheese, corn dogs and fig newtons, among other classic packaged goods. All of our recreations were head and shoulders above the originals. We made it all from scratch and came to the party dishing on how long everything took to make. Clearly, these items aren't intended for everyday preparation or consumption. I know one thing for sure when I make fig newtons again I am SO hacking the recipe to simplify them into a less sweet and less time consuming bar cookie.
Anyway, lesson learned and a lovely evening. Thanks for those who played along with me. And on the the asparagus. I made this again on Sunday night and we fell in love it all over again. Asparagus means spring to me and frankly I just don't get tired of it since I know that I will have to wait an entire year until I can get good asparagus again. That being said, I do tire of the same preparation. This one is new to me this year. Lime and asparagus may seem like an unlikely pairing, but it is a fantastic one. And yes, the recipe says citrus and you can simply replace the lime with orange or a more traditional lemon, but I ask you to go for the lime. It is so unexpected and a total taste bud wake up.
When roasting the asparagus remember to not overcook it. keep your asparagus crisp and in shape, don't wait until it bends limply in submission to the heat of the oven. Asparagus should always be served a bit firm.
Roasted Asparagus with Citrus Butter
1 1/2 lbs. asparagus
1 t. olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup fresh citrus juice
3 T. cold unsalted butter, in chunks
1 t. grated citrus zest
If the asparagus is thin, snap off the tough parts of the stalks where they break naturally. If thick, slice off the tough ends with a knife- you can usually see a change in color where the stalks turn tender- then peel them up to the tips.
Soak the asparagus in cold water while you preheat the oven to 425*, then drain and put them in a gratin dish (They needn't be dry.) Toss with the oil and season with salt. Bake until the stalks are tender when pierced with the tip of a pairing knife, 20-40 minutes depending on their thickness.
Boil the juice in a small skillet until it has reduced to about 1 1/2 tablespoons (or just microwave to the same effect). Remove from the heat, whisk in the better, then add the zest, a pinch of salt, and some pepper. When the asparagus is done remove it to a platter and spoon the sauce over it.
Serves 4, ideally, 2 practically, and sometimes just me.