I started seeing the first signs of spring more than a month ago. In just the past week or so, winter coats have suddenly felt too heavy, the heat has been switched off during the day, and we’re even thinking about taking the wool blankets off the bed. But yesterday, when I saw these in the supermarket—on sale!—I knew for sure that spring had arrived.
Asparagus is one of the things that I really do not buy unless it’s in season. I find what’s available out of season so expensive and so inferior in taste that it would probably be more satisfying to just eat the money instead. I admit I’m biased: I was spoiled by living in Oxford, where during the asparagus season you could go to the Covered Market and get bundles that had been grown a mile or two down the road, and picked the same morning. It’s hard to get excited about stuff flown halfway around the world after that.
2 bunches asparagus
2 Tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper
juice and zest of ½ lemon
Preheat oven to 400F/200C. Drizzle a shallow roasting pan with olive oil, and put in oven to heat.
Wash the asparagus and, using your hands, snap into bite-sized pieces. (If you work your way up gently from the bottom of the stalk, it should naturally snap where the woody part at the bottom ends. Discard this and continue snapping.)
Shake off any excess water, and carefully add to the now hot pan. (There may be some sizzling and spitting as any water hits the hot oil.) Toss to coat with oil and return pan to oven.
Roast asparagus for 20-30 minutes, checking every 10 minutes or so and tossing to make sure nothing is burning. The asparagus is done when it has nice brown bits and is tender.
Remove from the oven. Season in the pan with salt, pepper, and lemon and toss. Serve immediately.
Serves 2. Recipe can be multiplied.