From Basic to Gourmet with One Easy Addition!
Asparagus brings back great memories of my childhood. My mom was a high school English and Drama teacher in an rural Northwest high school, and many of her students worked in the fields before school (the movie McFarland captured a bit of the flavor of her experience. Minus the sports.) Sometimes the students would bring her a brown paper bag of freshly cut "grass," as they called asparagus. And we would feast! What we couldn't eat that week, we blanched and froze for later. (In fact, I like to brag to my kids that I am so tough that I even helped freeze asparagus on the day I had my wisdom teeth removed!)
Roasting asparagus is my default preparation method, and this addition makes a reliable side dish go from wonderful to fantastic with one easy addition! If you haven't discovered fennel, this is a great recipe to give it a try. It has a distinctive, yet complementary taste. (And I love to include raw fennel in salads!)
Roasted Asparagus with Fennel
- 2 bunches organic asparagus
- 2 small or 1 large organic fennel bulbs
- 1 TBSP olive oil
- 2 TBSP butter or olive oil
- freshly ground salt and pepper
- chopped fennel leaves, for garnish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Wash and pat dry the asparagus
- Hold each stem close to the cut end, and snap off the ends. This will prevent getting any tough ends
- Place on a baking sheet, drizzle with 1 TBSP olive oil, and toss gently to coat (I do this by hand, sort of rubbing the olive oil around the asparagus)
- Sprinkle with the salt and pepper
- Roast in the oven for about 8-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus. It should be tender-crisp
- Meanwhile, wash, trim, and thinly slice the fennel bulbs
- Heat the butter or olive oil to medium low in the skillet
- Add the fennel, and stir frequently until tender. The heat should be low enough that the fennel will not brown before it is tender. It should be just slightly browned
- Taste and season with salt
- When the asparagus is ready, remove from the oven and arrange on a serving plate
- Spoon the fennel onto the top of the asparagus, sprinkle with the chopped fennel leaves, and serve!
You'll be amazed at how just a little fennel adds so much class to a basic vegetable!