Spring equals asparagus for me. I really don't know why I've been boiling it for so many years. It's so tasty broiled in the oven. This recipe has all my favorite flavors. Spicy Calabrian pepper puree, garlic, shallots, lemon and orange juice/zest, and anchovies. You throw in whole anchovies and by the time the asparagus is cooked the anchovies have disintegrated into a salty, spicy, shallot sauce. The spice is very subtle but it give the dish a lot of depth. I just spooned the sauce into my kids' mouths. They loved it. —Phyllis Grant
4 as a side dish
extra virgin olive oil
sherry wine vinegar
shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
garlic clove, peeled and grated or pressed
1/2 - 1 teaspoons
Calabrian red pepper puree or harissa (amount is up to taste)
Turn your oven on to 450° F. Use the broiler if you can keep the dish about a foot away from the flame. Otherwise bake or convection bake is fine. Just high heat in order to get color on the asparagus and to help the anchovies melt away into a sauce.
Wash and trim asparagus stalks. If the stalks are thick, peel the outer later off up until just below the tips. Place stalks in an oven proof casserole dish or sheet pan.
Add lemon juice/zest, orange juice/zest, olive oil, vinegar, shallots, parsley, garlic, and red pepper paste. Toss around until the asparagus is evenly coated.
Tuck the anchovy fillets in around the asparagus.
Place aspargaus in the oven (far away from the flame if it's on broil). It will cook pretty fast (5-10 minutes), especially if the stalks are thin. Keep an eye on it as it cooks so it doesn't burn. Toss the asparagus around so the stalks color evenly. I like asparagus cooked until just tender. I check doneness with the tip of a paring knife in the thickest part of the stalk.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Plate the stalks and leave most of the marinade behind in the dish. Mix the remaining marinade up with a fork to completely break apart the anchovies. Taste. It will probably be salty enough. Spoon sauce over the cooked stalks. If desired, garnish with parsley leaves and a bit more lemon zest. Eat immediately.
Phyllis Grant is an IACP finalist for Personal Essays/Memoir Writing and a three-time Saveur Food Blog Awards finalist for her blog, Dash and Bella. Her essays and recipes have been published in a dozen anthologies and cookbooks including Best Food Writing 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured both in print and online for various outlets, including Oprah, The New York Times, Food52, Saveur, The Huffington Post, Time Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Tasting Table and Salon. Her memoir with recipes, Everything Is Out of Control, is coming out April 2020 from Farrar Straus & Giroux. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband and two children.