Asparagus

Selland’s market-cafe in Sacramento is an uncommonly good café and often a source of inspiration for foods to prepare. Recently I had some of their asparagus and loved the texture – slightly crunchy (definitely not mushy!) – and the hint of lemon flavor along with the olive oil and Parmesan. Upon inquiry I was told that the asparagus had indeed been parboiled for 2 minutes and then tossed with Parmesan, olive oil, and some lemon zest. So easy!

Asparagus Recipe

  • Cook time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
  • 2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest - freshly grated lemon rind
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method

1 Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.

2 Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it's important to make sure they are of the highest quality.

63 Comments

  1. Stacey

    I have a general question regarding measurements. In this recipe, it states 1 bunch of asparagus, 1 lb. Then in the recipe you cut it into 1-2 ” sections. Do you still need the 1 lb of asparagus after it is cut. On many recipes I have tried over the years, I have always run into this issue & have never quite figured out the correct way to measure the recipe.

  2. Elise

    Hi Stacey –
    With a recipe like this you don’t need to be so precise. Ultimately it’s done to taste anyway. With baking however, you do need to be very precise with the measurements, as baking is more akin to chemistry.

  3. Sheeijan

    I just made this a few minutes ago – I’m sitting here enjoying it right now! It’s lovely. It tastes so fresh, it’s a wonderful summer recipe. The asparagus I had bought was pretty young and therefore thin, so I ended up using about 2 lbs. I liked it with a more subtle lemon and Parmesan cheese flavor anyway.

  4. Kalyn Denny

    This looks absolutely wonderful. I have been cooking asparagus on the grill a lot lately since I’ve been seeing it on sale everywhere, but this looks like a great way to cook it on the nights when I’m not grilling anything else. Thanks for a great recipe.
    Kalyn
    P.S. It’s low carb too, for those of us who care about such things!

  5. Lauren

    I love spring so much! It’s the only time you don’t have to sell internal organs to buy asparagus. This sounds very tasty, and very, very simple.

  6. Brad

    I’ll have to try this. Aspsaragus is my favorite vegetable. One way that I like to cook it is to rub the spears down with oil and lightly salt and pepper them. Then, take about three spears and bundle them up with a slice of bacon. You could spiral wrap the bacon down the length of the spears, or wrap the bacon around the middle and tie it in a knot (this is typically what I do). Bake @ 350 until the bacon is cooked through. The flavor that the bacon fat imparts to the asparagus is out of this world. Then again, bacon fat gives just about anything an out of this world flavor. :)

  7. fethiye

    Hi Elise, do you live around Sacramento as well? We went to the Sunrise farmer’s market last weekend but could not get my husband to agree on buying asparagus! The recipe you shared looks like a very easy one to make, thanks for sharing.

  8. Charlene

    I’ll try this but use preserved lemons, since I have a big jar…it would be good with some sundried tomato or kalamatas added too…

  9. Janni

    Lauren: How long do you bake the bacon wrapped asparagus? I tried this last night with blanched green beans and by the time the bacon got done, the tips of the green beans had transformed into dark, wizened tips. Not good. I even nuked the bacon for 1 minute before wrapping.

  10. Rita

    I oven bake my asparagus with a mixture olive oil, crushed fresh garlic, salt, cracked black pepper and a little balsamic vinegar (using a large ziplock bag to coat the asparagus makes it easier). Spread it out on a baking sheet and bake it at 350 for about 20 minutes or until it’s to the doneness you prefer. It’s so yummy, I could just eat that for dinner. I have a fresh bunch in the fridge for tonight. This same recipe is good for any fresh veggies you like. You can also throw in some fresh chopped herbs of your choice too. It’s fun to experiment.

  11. Deb

    Thanks so much for posting on how to cook asparagus. I have NEVER cooked asparagus in my life! And on a recent post a couple of friends shared how they do it. But your way and the comments here also give me a variety of ways to try it for the first time. Thanks.

  12. Helen

    Hi Elise,

    It’s funny, I made almost exactly the same dish this weekend :) The only thing I do differently is shock asparagus in ice-water after boiling it. Isn’t it the most awesome spring dish! I guess great minds do think alike ;)

    Cheers,
    -Helen

  13. Sally

    This sounds wonderful! Around this area, asparagus grows wild in the road ditches! From May through June we just go out and pick it. I have yet to eat my fill of asparagus, though. I’m definitely going to give this recipe a try. Thanks Elise!

  14. keiko

    Hi Elise – such beautiful asparagus, I like adding a little balsamic too. I can’t wait to go for PYO at nearby farms, it’s one of my favourite vegetables…

  15. julie

    Is there an optimal time to cook Asparagus, before using in a tart? Just curious as to how to perfect my normal tart…Thanks!

  16. Sachin Kundra

    This was great! I made it for dinner last night and then got the bright idea to throw it into some pasta and cheese…WOW to say the least.

    Thank you so much for the post!

  17. Rose

    Boy am I glad I found these receipes, I have been injoying asparagus for a good number of years, but usually cooked it the same old way. Creamed asparagus on toat. We love it, but I am sure going to try some of the recepies I found here tonight.
    Thanks to all.

  18. upasana

    Dear Elise,

    I tried this recipe twice and it tasted absolutely wonderful!!it was sooo easy to make. The second time I made it as accompaniment to our barbequed pork and chicken at the beach…everybody loved it!!

  19. Mariya

    I was looking for an easy asparagus recipe for a long time. Now I think I found the best one. I managed to surprise a lot of my friends with the unusual heavenly taste. Thank you!

  20. Janet

    Yum, thanks for this recipe. I used white truffle oil, imported parmesan, and a meyer lemon from my yard. It’s so simple and fresh and delicious.

  21. atom prober

    Thanks–this was a great side dish for my birthday meal this weekend. I seared some Wagyu prime rib and made you perfect mashed potatoes and had a bottle of Shiraz.

    I usually prefer to broil asparagus, but I wanted to parboil or steam it, so that I could reuse the water, pot, and stovetop from the potatoes. This was easily the best boiled asparagus I’ve had; the parmesan was nice and subtle & my girlfriend didn’t even realize it was there. She loved the lemon too (and I always use some when I broil or grill asparagus).

  22. Mary Russell

    Thank Heavens! My family is simply not into vegetables except me! However, I found a vegetable they actually fight over! Keep them comming! Delicious!

  23. Seven

    Made this last night, and it was perfect. My new favourite. Even my husband said it was ‘actually edible’ – a huge compliment from a non-asparagus guy. We only ate about half of it, so I used the leftovers tonight in your Smoked Salmon Pasta (in place of the fish – I didn’t have any) and that recipe also turned out delicious.

  24. naomi

    so yummy, I’m eating it right now! two minutes is the perfect cooking time to keep it crunchy, and the parmesean and lemon give it a nice zip.

  25. tastyeatsathome

    I tried this recipe a while ago (in fact, it was my first encounter on your blog) as I was looking for a unique way to present asparagus as a side dish. It was Mother’s Day, so everything had to be extra-special for Mom! This asparagus was sooo delicious. I loved the parmesan and lemon. Will definitely make this again!

  26. amy

    I found some beautiful asparagus at Trader Joe’s and used a very slight amount of organic lemon juice because I didn’t have a fresh lemon around. Turned out wonderful.
    Even my 4 year old loves this one. My asparagus phobia husband will eat it. Great side dish!

  27. Stacia

    I don’t know why I’ve never commented on this entry, but this is one of my favorite ways to fix asparagus! Sadly I don’t have access to really exquisite olive oil, but have found the Colevita in the tin tastes fine. The only change I sometimes make is using shredded asiago instead of Parmesan, but that’s just if I have a chunk of asiago sitting around in the fridge.

  28. Nick

    I am not much of a cook and my wife is very paticular about how she likes her veggies. I made this recipie and she loved it (as did I). Thanks!

  29. Judy Hart

    The asparagus were easy to make and tasted so good. The lemon zest just added a zing that was wonderful. Will definitely make again.

  30. Sarah

    This was extremely easy and extremely tasty. The asparagus was still a bit crunchy, which is how we like it, and the flavor was outstanding. I used Bertolli olive oil and the kraft pre-shredded parmesan and it was great!! Our guests raved about it and their 7 year old son even like it!! We paired it with salmon and garlic mashed potatoes.

  31. Serge

    I love asparagus and may I just mentione that it goes very well with balsamic vinegar (instead of the lemon zest you suggest).

  32. Brianna

    Would this work with frozen asparagus? What would I need to do differently? Thanks!

    I have yet to cook with frozen asparagus, so don’t know what to tell you. ~Elise

  33. Priya

    Elise,
    I tried the recipe with balsamic vinegar and increased cooking time by 1 min (since my asparagus were not thin) as suggested by the readers and it turned out very tasty.

    Thanks for the recipe.

  34. Linda F

    Just made this for a South Beach lunch for my husband and myself. It was not only easy, but fabulous. Will no doubt enjoy this very often as we embark on our weight loss program!

    And BTW, for the most outstanding flavor be sure to use lemon ZEST as called for in the recipe. (Not juice.)

    Thanks Elise.

  35. Nancy

    Great fast easy recipe. I usually like my asparagus grilled or roasted and not steamed or boiled, but this parboil is the happy medium. I learned that depending on the cooking method either wet or dry, it brings out a different flavor compound in asparagus. Have you heard of this before?

    Well I know when you roast asparagus, that definitely brings out new flavors. ~Elise

  36. Dana

    An easy recipe that is wonderful! Anyone can make this and it tastes delicious. I wish that I would have made an extra batch for a healthy snack. Next time I may add sliced toasted almonds as I’ve put in asparagus in the past. Thanks for posting the recipe!

  37. Dottie

    I just tired this tonight for the first time. I wish I would have made more. It’s wonderful! Of course all your recipes are wonderful. Thanks so much!

  38. Joan K.

    Such an easy & delicious way to prepare perfect asparagus. As an avid farmer’s market shopper, we eat what is in season and it is always nice to have another variation in preparing asparagus. I often oven roast or grill but I really like this.

  39. Charla

    Very similar to the way I prepare asparagus. I love to add capers to the lemon zest, olive oil and parmesan cheese then toss in the asparagus.

  40. NoRecipeRequired

    I loved this recipe and this time of year I am always looking for asparagus recipes. Also loved you comments about cooking to taste…truer words were never spoken. I’ve been working on an asparagus recipe with gnocchi and bacon, which I just posted on NoRecipeRequired…thought you might enjoy it.

  41. Jennifer

    I made your recipe (which was perfect!) and then I added pre cooked bacon (broken into large pieces and sprinked throughout) to it. I covered and baked it at 350 degrees for 15 minutes! Very Yummy!

  42. TCN

    I used this recipe last night and it was awsome. Definately, the best asparagus I’ve ever made and clean up was a lot easier than cooking with other methods.

  43. Sarah

    I just finished eating this. Wow. It tastes so good and yet so simple to make! I also added pre cooked bacon to it. So good and easy

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