Asparagus is a green vegetable that generally comes into season during the spring and summer months. There are several methods that can be used to prepare asparagus, but one of the most popular ways to cook it is to roast it. Properly roasted asparagus is tender without being mushy, and has a deepened asparagus flavor. The vegetable should be cleaned and trimmed before roasting. For simple roasted asparagus, it may be coated with oil and then seasoned with salt and pepper, but additional herbs and seasonings may be added for a more complex taste.
Fresh asparagus is typically plentiful during from late spring through the summer months. It can be purchased at a farmers market or grocery store, or may be grown in a garden. Before roasting, the vegetable should be thoroughly rinsed to remove any dirt or soil on the stalks. The thick end of an asparagus stalk is generally woody and not good for eating, and should be trimmed off. The oven should be preheated while the asparagus is being prepared, and a heat-safe roasting pan should be used.
When making roasted asparagus, the vegetable is typically lightly coated in oil before being placed in the oven. Olive oil is most often used, but other cooking oils, such as sesame or canola, also work well. The oil may be drizzled over the top of the asparagus or applied with a pastry brush. Another easy method for oiling the asparagus involves placing the spears in a plastic food storage bag, adding a small amount of oil, and then shaking until each piece is thoroughly covered.
Asparagus can be seasoned in different ways to develop unique flavors. The simplest roasted asparagus recipes call for just salt and pepper, but other items, such as fresh garlic, can also be used. Some people like to add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice for a fresh, tangy flavor. After the asparagus is finished roasting, it may be served plain or topped with freshly grated cheese, almonds, Hollandaise sauce, or crumbled bacon.
Roasting times vary slightly, depending on the oven being used, but care should be taken to not cook the asparagus too long. Properly roasted asparagus is generally dark green in color, and tender yet still slightly crisp. Overcooking until the asparagus is a slightly brown color will result in spears that are mushy and limp. Roasted asparagus is a versatile vegetable that can be used in several ways. Many people choose to serve it as a simple side dish, but it may also be added to salads or pasta recipes.