My first asparagus meal of the spring is traditionally simple. Later, after asparagus turns from early-season delicacy to just another day with asparagus, I’ll add fresh Parmesan or goat cheese, bacon or prosciutto. But for this first time, all I need is my cast iron skillet, butter and/or olive oil, finishing salt, and freshly ground black pepper. And of course a bundle of asparagus.
Although this asparagus has been washed, keep in mind how asparagus grows: by pushing itself up through the soil, tip first, so sometimes dirt can get lodged there. You may want to give them a short soak in cold water, making sure the tips are submerged.
Dry the asparagus gently with a clean tea towel. Then go ahead and preheat your skillet over medium-high heat.
While your skillet is warming up, break the woody ends off each asparagus spear. You can peel these and use them in soup, or send them to the compost bin.
Once your skillet is hot, add butter or olive oil (or both!). Once the fat begins to bubble, carefully place your asparagus spears in a single layer in the skillet. Using tongs, turn often until the asparagus begins to brown, anywhere from 4-6 minutes, depending on the size of the stalk (less time for thinner stalks) and how crisp or tender you like your asparagus.
Plate the asparagus, then sprinkle with a finishing salt (I’m using Maldon sea salt flakes) and freshly ground black pepper.
Garlic and fresh herbs add another layer of flavoring. Sauté the garlic/herbs first for about 30 seconds, then add the asparagus and cook as described in this post.
But I’ll save those additions for my second asparagus meal of the season.
- 2 Tbsp butter and/or olive oil
- 1/2 pound asparagus, cleaned and trimmed
- Finishing salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat skillet over medium-high heat.
- Once skillet is hot, melt butter and/or olive oil until bubbly.
- Add asparagus in a single layer.
- Sauté, turning often, until the asparagus begins to brown, 4-6 minutes.
- Plate your asparagus, then sprinkle with finishing salt and freshly ground black pepper.