Broiled Asparagus With Balsamic Vinaigrette & Shaved Parmesan

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Sometimes the hubster has to remind me I forget that just because something is embarrassingly easy doesn’t mean that it isn’t any less delicious or blog-worthy. This quick sort-of-salad side dish is a great way to welcome spring with all those delectable pencil thin asparagus prominently displayed right now at the market. The balsamic vinegar imparts a slightly sweet tang with more depth than cider vinegar or citrus and the creamy, salty parmesan adds another layer of flavor. Broiling the asparagus not only brings out a smoky note but also allows this dish to grace your table in under 20 minutes and that includes cooling time. And just in case the ease and yumminess make you feel guilty, not only is asparagus visually striking, it’s also pretty healthy. 1 cup contains 2.9 g protein, 70% of the RDA for vitamin K, 16% of the RDA for iron, 2.8 g fiber, and just 27 calories. Not bad, huh?

Thick or thin, which is better?
Opposite to common wisdom, thin spears are not younger than thick spears, actually, younger plants have a tendency to produce thicker asparagus at first. So, which is better? Maybe the question should be, how do you like to eat your asparagus? If you’re a fan of grilling, thicker is better cuz they hold up to the heat of the grill better and don’t just wilt or fall apart. If you want a quick stir-fry or a velvety purée, thin is where it’s at cuz thin asparagus have less of a fibrous sheath or peel which is also a time saver cuz you don’t have to peel it off like with the thicker variety. For broiling like with this dish, thin to medium asparagus work well but thick works fine too as long as you peel the stems and try to find ones that are uniform in thickness. And in terms of choosing for freshness, it’s pretty intuitive. If the heads look wilty or dry or the stems have air pockets you’ve got an older specimen that’ll taste about as tough and leathery as it looks.

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Ingredients
1/2 bundle (~1/2 lb) asparagus
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 oz shaved parmesan cheese

Break off woody stems from asparagus by bending the end of the stalk between your forefinger and thumb, the stem will naturally break above the tough fibrous woody area cuz it’s not as flexible there. Cool, huh?

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil then pour olive oil and balsamic vinegar onto foil. Place asparagus on foil and mix to coat with oil and vinegar. Lay out in a single layer over the baking sheet and season with salt and pepper. Broil on the highest oven rack till asparagus is lightly browned ~7-8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool ~10 minutes. Top with shaved parmesan. Serves 2 as a salad or side dish.

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About Cam

Enjoying the hippie life in Portlandia :)

8 comments

  1. Thick or thin…yum! I enjoy them both!!! That platter looks pretty, is it a tree?

    • Cam

      True, asparagus is lovely in all forms🙂

      Good call, it’s a tree and it’s actually a raised platter. It’s handmade from a girl on etsy.com but she doesn’t seem to make things anymore. Life just catches up to us, huh?

  2. Yes, this may be a simple way to prepare asparagus but it is so worth at least one blog post. Now that the little green darlings are coming into season again, I cannot pass them at the grocer’s without buying a bunch. I waited for what seemed like forever for this time of year and I’m certainly going to take advantage of it. I’ve got a half bunch in water on my counter and tomorrow, for dinner, I’m having Asparagus alla Cam. Thank you for the inspiration. I bet there’ll be more asparagus on my counter by Friday. 🙂

    • Cam

      John, you’re a man after my own stomach😀 Sometimes I think I will eat some much asparagus (and broccolini) that I’m going to turn green. Let me know how they turn out, I hope you enjoy them. I decided against mincing some shallots since they’re cooked under the broiler …

      • Not only did I prepare Asparagus alla Cam last night and enjoy every mouthful, tomorrow night I am going back to my “old” Cam favorite, Sườn Xào Nước Mắm. And if the market has good asparagus tomorrow, I’ll be making that, too. 🙂
        Thanks, Cam, for sharing both recipes.

  3. Looks both tasty AND healthy!

    • Cam

      This or grilling is my favorite way to eat asparagus. I’ll be sad when asparagus season is over but then it’ll be summerish🙂

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