Cooking From Every Angle

Asparagus Two Ways

By • April 18, 2011 • 16 Comments

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Asparagus with Pancetta Asparagus with Shallots, Chiles, and Lemon

- Amanda

Sometimes when I learn something new in the kitchen I feel embarrassed that I hadn't figured it out sooner. Cooking asparagus was that way. Sure, I knew how to high-heat roast it, and I loved that technique. But when I wasn't roasting asparagus, I'd slide back to blanching the spears. Then, while working on a story a few years ago, Carlo Mirarchi, the chef at Roberta's, showed me the right way. As he noted, blanching does little but drain asparagus's flavor, and they're no longer so tough that they need blanching anyway. A much better method is to saute them in oil or butter (or some combination thereof). They cook through quickly and retain all their flavor.

That's what I do now. And so should you (when you're not roasting them). To celebrate my asparagus enlightenment, I'd like to share with you two recipes that involve sauteing and not much other work. One calls for pancetta, the other for chiles and lemon -- all of my most reliable friends in the kitchen. Happy spring.

Asparagus with Pancetta

Serves 3 to 4 (add a poached egg and it serves 2 for dinner)

  • One 1/4-inch-thick slice pancetta, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more if needed
  • 1/3 cup coarse bread crumbs
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Maldon sea salt, for garnish

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Asparagus with Shallots, Chiles, and Lemon

Serves 3 to 4

  • 1 small shallot, thinly sliced
  • Coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 1 dried red chile, crushed into tiny bits
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • Maldon or other flaky sea salt

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Jump to Comments (16)

Comments (16)

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over 3 years ago Rhonda35

Amanda - I made the Asparagus with Shallots, Chiles and Lemon last night - delish! The one change I made was I grated the zest of the lemon over the plated asparagus before I cut the lemon into wedges. Added a nice brightness to the flavor.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great idea -- and better way to use up all the lemon!

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over 3 years ago roundthekitchentable

I am salivating at the thought of local asparagus. My new favorite preparation is wrapped in bits of proscuitto and then grilled (sliding 3-4 spears onto a pair of wooden skewers for support). It's a magically disappearing appetizer.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Still chilly here in NY -- I'll save that one for a few weeks from now.

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over 3 years ago EatDrinkLyon

Who knew?! I always blanch/boil them or roast them too. Just tried this new method for lunch and they were green and super crunchy/nice & tender. I served on top of lavash, with some crumbled feta and a drizzle of really good oil, and pepper. Really satisfying lunch!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Nice menu.

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over 3 years ago lapadia

We usually have asparagus growing by now...it's been a long cold season, however, I will have your recipes in mind once we can harvest! Thanks...

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over 3 years ago TiggyBee

Oh gosh, I love asparagus even the after affects aren't enough to deter me.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Ha!

Mrs._larkin_370

over 3 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Love both of these. I usually nuke/steam my asparagus (don't cringe.) Comes out crisp-tender. I love your handwriting Amanda!!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I won't tell anyone....

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over 3 years ago mariaraynal

I just love recipes like these -- simple, with just a few carefully chosen ingredients, yet high impact. Confession: I almost always skip blanching in recipes and add the veggies a couple minutes earlier. I'm fairly sure it hasn't had any catastrophic effects.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I confess to the same -- have become very anti-blanching.

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over 3 years ago mariaraynal

Yes, it seems to be an extra step and a waste of a perfectly clean pot most of the time.

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over 3 years ago EmilyC

Thank you! This comes just in time for a trip back home to see my family. My mother has a huge bed of asparagus right now, and it even grows roadside near their farm. We're always looking for new ideas for how to simply prepare it.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 3 years ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hope you enjoy it. You reminded me of going asparagus "hunting" with my mother and grandmother -- it would grow on the roadside near fields of corn near my grandmother's house in Maryland.