Sautéed asparagus sounds like one of those dishes you don’t need a recipe for—and you don’t, technically. Just toss the trimmed green stalks in a hot pan slicked with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and you’re good to go. But see, while “good to go” is fine, I’m always looking for vegetables that are just as snackable, just as gotta-keep-coming-back-for-more-able, as stuff like potato chips or seasoned nuts. And this is easy to achieve, with a couple more ingredients.
To add a bit of nuttiness to asparagus—which I think tastes like a slightly more grassy broccoli or green bean, and is in need of both richness and acid—I like sesame, both seeds and oil. Toast the seeds until golden and fragrant, then sprinkle them over the top of the garlic-sautéed asparagus, following a pour of toasted sesame oil, with a generous pinch of crunchy, flaky salt.
Though regular ol’ lemon, or even a small splash of rice or white wine vinegar, would brighten up sautéed asparagus spears, if you have lime (fresh juice, please!), use that instead, in this recipe or in something simpler. Though just as delightfully sour as lemon or vinegar, lime brings a slightly bitter floral zing that simply can’t be matched.
A note on trimming asparagus: While you’re welcome to snip off the vegetables’ woody ends with a knife or pair of scissors, there’s an easier way to find the exact breaking point. Bend the end of your asparagus near where the tender stalk meets the too-firm base and snap it from the base—works every time. —Rebecca Firkser
- Prep time 5 minutes
- Cook time 10 minutes
- Serves 2-4
large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
toasted sesame oil
lime juice (about 1/2 lime)
Flaky salt, for serving
- Place the sesame seeds in a large, dry skillet over medium-low heat. Cook, shaking the pan frequently, until the seeds smell toasty and take on a golden brown color, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside. (It’s OK if a few seeds are still clinging to the pan.)
- Add olive oil to the skillet and turn up the heat to medium-high. Add the garlic and asparagus, season with salt and pepper, and sauté, tossing every couple minutes, until the asparagus is tender and the garlic is starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and drizzle in the sesame oil.
- Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and drizzle lime over. Top with the toasted sesame seeds and flaky salt.