Cooking On A Budget: Baked Asparagus

Friday, April 3, 2015

Baked Asparagus

Allow me to engage you for a bit in this post and talk about a spring vegetable that I absolutely love but do not always buy because of the per pound price. The price of asparagus is dictated by the fact that it is one of the most difficult vegetables to grow and harvest and the care that is put into it according to one website I visited. Our local store carries it for $4.99 most of the time and on sale for $3.99 a pound or $2.99. Well this past week it was $1.99 per pound. When I saw the large sign from a distance I said to myself: "this can't be any good then for that price." I was wrong. I checked it over well and it was really good looking. The stems were not to fat (which I do not like) or too skinny (which can be stringy). As with Goldilocks, these were "just right".

Asparagus is a lovely spring vegetable that grows and thrives near coastal waters. Our asparagus here in the United States comes mainly from Sacramento California where it grows in the San Joaquin River Delta and also from Michigan and Washington. China happens to be the largest producer of this healthy vegetable and other areas that produce heavily are Peru and Mexico.

It has it origins from Ancient Egypt where it was used for medicinal purposes as a diuretic. White asparagus was originally cultivated in countries in Europe and I read they prefer the white over the green. Purple asparagus has not nearly the nutritional value of green and tends to be high in sugar content.

Asparagus is considered a power food due to the properties it contains. It is loaded with vitamins (A, C, B6, E and K) and contains essential nutrients like iron, potassium, copper, riboflavin, niacin and thiamine. This long stemmed beauty is part of the Lilly family and is high in fiber, it is low in carbohydrates and has no fat or cholesterol.

One of the things I am discovering as I try it, is that roasting vegetables (or baking as I referred to in my post title) brings out the best in the vegetables. The end result is the full flavor of the vegetable and you have not lost many of the nutrients like you would if you boiled them. The other day when I made a dinner with  cod, baked potatoes and asparagus - everything was baked in the oven. I put the cod with herb crust and the asparagus in the oven at the same time. They took about 20 - 22 minutes to bake in the oven and each one came out perfectly.

  • 1 bundle of asparagus
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • ground black pepper
  • lemon juice (fresh)
The photograph shows you how to prep the asparagus:

  1. Lay your asparagus on a baking sheet. For easier clean up line with foil or parchment paper.
  2. I used Kosher salt and generously sprinkled the salt over the asparagus followed by hand grinding a good amount of black pepper on top.
  3. I than spritzed it all over with some freshly squeezed lemon juice followed by drizzles of olive oil
  4. Bake in a preheated 350° oven for 20-22 minutes for the diameter asparagus I had. Bake for 5-7 minutes more for thicker asparagus and bake 5-7 minutes less for thin.
You are going to love doing your asparagus this way and this vegetable is just a great side to many proteins and fish. It certainly doesn't require a lot of fussing to be delicious. The baked asparagus we had the other night was about the best tasting we have ever eaten. It was cooked just the way we like it; soft enough but still with just an edge of crisp to it. And not overpowering it with too many other ingredients, the actual flavor of the asparagus itself came through like a shining star.

Our bundle was 1.03 pounds and would have been adequate for three average servings. And because of the sale price we paid $2.05! Check your store flyer to see what the price is because Baked Asparagus would be a lovely side vegetable to go with your ham, lamb or beef this holiday weekend.

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