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May 1, 2017
This is about...
Spring AT LAST!   Roasted ASPARAGUS!
        IT WAS A PRETTY ROUGH WINTER UP HERE. And I’ve been more than a little gun shy, bracing for just one more snow storm. So, even though the local shops have been sporting tons of spring produce for weeks-- asparagus, strawberries, ramps and early peas, just to name a few, I’VE BEEN IN NO MOOD FOR ANYTHING EVEN REMOTELY SPRINGY. Warm and cozy was all that I could think about.
        But now, thank goodness, the daffodils and crocuses are in bloom. And, with the thermometer having boasted a few 80 degree days in Woodstock, albeit sandwiched between some below freezing ones, I think it’s safe to say that WINTER HAS LEFT THE BUILDING.
        We’ve made it—SPRING AT LAST! And it’s May First-- MAY DAY!   My cravings have finally shifted from those dark meaty long cooked stews to everything colorful and fresh. WHAT COMES TO MIND FIRST? bright green ASPARAGUS. I’ve found pencil-thin and thick-stubby ones in my local market. I love them both. You may only find one size available to you. No worries, this recipe can accommodate any size you come across.
        I’M A BIG FAN OF ROASTING THEM. And this recipe is about as easy and delicious as you can get. Simply snap off the ends and toss with some olive oil and seasonings. The hot oven does all the work, making them sweet, caramelized and full of concentrated asparagus flavor.
        THIS VERSION WILL GIVE YOU THE BASICS. I like mine in their purest state--olive oil, salt and pepper. But there are so many variations. You can toss them with a few tablespoons of sliced garlic, shallots or grated parmesan cheese just before you bake them. Give them a sweet/sour note by drizzling on some balsamic vinegar, before or after you roast them. How about a squeeze of lemon juice or a hit of hot sauce? ENJOY!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Get the freshest you can find. The spears should look plump, bright green and the tops dry, not slimy.
2. The best way to prep the asparagus is to hold one end near the stem and the other near the middle of the stalk, and bend it until it snaps. It may look like you’re throwing away a lot of the stalk, but what you are actually doing is finding the natural place where the toughness ends. Cutting off or peeling the ends will not guarantee that you’ve eliminated that woody, inedible part. If you’re worried about wasting the stems, you can freeze them and save them for vegetable stock.
3. The roasting time is very subjective. You can roast them for less time and keep them crisp tender, or roast for the whole time and go for alot of caramelization. Test with a fork to see if they’re tender, and then from there it’s up to you.

Roasted Spring Asparagus

2 pounds (usually 2 bunches) of asparagus, ends snapped off, rinsed well and dried off
2-3 Tablespoons fruity olive oil
3/4-1 teaspoon Kosher salt. (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, about 18 grinds from a pepper mill, or to taste

Make the asparagus:
        Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
        Put the asparagus on the rimmed baking sheet, and drizzle all over with the oil. Toss them to coat. Evenly sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, and beginning to brown at the edges. Depending on the thickness of the spears, this could be anywhere from 10-20 minutes. Test with a fork to see if they are tender.

Serves 3-4.    YUM!
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