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Asparagus Two Ways

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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.

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