Asparagus is a quintessential spring vegetable — full of green flavor, only around for a short season, and a harbinger of more summer bounty to come. It’s one of my favorites and I always try to make an asparagus-focused dish to kick-off the season. Last year it was spring quesadillas and this year it was asparagus with lemon and garlic.
Asparagus is one of those foods that shines when it isn’t overwhelmed by other competing flavors. I find that it can really hold its own in both texture and flavor and I enjoy it most when I use only a few other complimentary ingredients. For this recipe I used fresh asparagus from the market, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and salt — only five ingredients, but lots of flavor!
I picked out my asparagus from the farmers market in Lyon, France. It was grown locally and was delicous. I tried to select tender spears that were green all the way to the bottom and not too thick. Best of all, it came wrapped in this sweet brown paper like an old-fashioned present. The French have so many lovely food traditions.
Once home, I washed the asparagus and trimmed off the bottom half inch from each spear to remove any woody texture. Given the size of my saute pan I decided to slice these spears in half to cook, but it’s totally fine to keep them intact if you prefer.
Lemon and Garlic Asparagus Ingredients (serves 2 – 4):
1 large bunch of asparagus
4 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoons of olive oil
juice from half a lemon
pinch of salt
Directions (15 minutes prep + cook time):
Dice the garlic and put in a saute pan with a generous pour of olive oil. Add your washed and trimmed asparagus and cook on medium/high for five minutes stirring regularly to coat all spears with olive oil.
Add the juice of half a lemon to the asparagus and stir again to distribute the flavor. Continue cooking for another five minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt to taste and remove from the heat when spears are changing color and seem cooked through. Perfectly cooked spears should have softened on the outside but still crunch when snapped.
They should look something like this…
We enjoyed this asparagus for lunch along with an antipasto plate of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, cheese, and toast, but it also makes a fantastic side dish. I like it especially well paired with fish.
Not only is asparagus a delicious way to celebrate spring, it is also packed with nutrition. It offers vitamins A, C, E, and K, antioxidants, fiber, folate and chromium. It is also a rich source of glutathione (as are avocado, kale, and brussels sprouts). Glutathione is a detoxifying compound that helps break down carcinogens and free radicals and eliminate them from the body. So, keep an eye out for local asparagus at your market and give this recipe a try!