In all honesty, I’ve never really been a huge fan of asparagus. To me, it has always been a vegetable that I have found bland and lacking in flavour, with an unpleasant texture that seemed to take a long time to chew. However, in a conversation with my cousin, who happens to be a chef at a Michelin star restaurant, he mentioned in passing that asparagus is his favourite vegetable. I was shocked, and since then I vowed to find a way to finally cook asparagus correctly. After all, if anyone’s opinion on which vegetables are the best is valid, it would be a chef’s. After making this Spicy Roasted Asparagus I finally understand his point!
I read online about a tip that solves the problem of the texture of asparagus. It mentioned the woody texture of the bottom of the stem, and suggested the technique of snapping the part of the stem nearest the bottom. I was a bit confused as to how this would work, but I decided to give it a try. If you grasp the end of the spear about half an inch from the bottom, you find there is a pint where it will naturally break. Snap here, and it rids you of the hard chewy part that I so dislike, and leaving you with the more flexible top half. I found just this made a huge difference to the texture of the vegetable, making it much more enjoyable.
Next, I decided to add some flavour to the asparagus. In my opinion, there are very few things that garlic does not improve, and this is no exception. When roasted, the hint of garlic perfectly compliments the slightly bitter taste of the asparagus. I also added some chilli flakes, for a little kick of heat (because why not?) and a squeeze of lemon juice to top it off. To garnish, I simply sprinkled on some toasted pine nuts. The warm nutty flavour goes beautifully with the asparagus, and the texture adds a little crunch. All in all, I ended up with a dish I was pretty proud of!
A note – asparagus comes in all sorts of sizes, and when roasted it tends to shrink a little. You just use your judgement on how much to use. If you are serving it as a side, you can use a little less than the recipe states. However, if it is a main component of the meal, make sure you remember that it gets smaller once cooked. Generally, I try to think about how hungry I am, and let my eyes guide me on how much I think I will eat.
So if you’re looking for a way to jazz up your asparagus, that is super quick (only 20 minutes) easy, and healthy too, give this Spicy Roasted Asparagus a try. Its packed with flavour, beautiful textures, and just generally is very tasty. I paired it with some pan-fried fish, but it would work well with any meat I think. It would even work solo as a delicious snack. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Spicy Roasted Asparagus
- 350 g asparagus (around 20 large spears)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 garlic cloves
- 1 tsp chilli flakes
- 3 tbsp pine nuts
- 1 lemon
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Finely chop the garlic.
- Spread your asparagus across a baking tray in one layer. Drizzle with olive oil and toss so they are all evenly coated.
- Sprinkle the garlic and chilli flakes over the asparagus. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over too. Season generously with salt and pepper.
- Place in an oven at 190°C for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry frying pan or wok until golden brown coloured, shaking the pan so they don't burn.
- After 15 minutes, take the asparagus out of the oven. Plate up, and sprinkle the toasted pine nuts over the top, with another squeeze of lemon juice if desired.
Method in Pictures
Gather your ingredients
Finely chop the garlic
Spread the asparagus onto a baking tray
Drizzle with olive oil, add the garlic, chilli flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Place in oven for 15 minutes
Toast the pine nuts in a pan
Take the asparagus out the oven
Sprinkle with pine nuts and serve
Spicy Roasted Asparagus goes great with…