This roasted asparagus is one of the fastest, easiest, and tastiest ways to eat this spring veggie — top it off with crunchy hazelnuts, parsley, and lemon zest, and you have yourself a real winner. Jump to the recipe here, or read on and get it at the bottom of this post.
Asparagus is a controversial veggie. It seems people either love it or hate it… or, like me, they used to hate it.
That’s right, asparagus and I have not always gotten along. Up until a few years ago, it was one of my least favorite foods… and there aren’t many things I don’t like.
As a teenager, I harvested a field of the stuff as a summer job. It was hard work, but the thing I could not get over was the smell, which permeated every inch of me so strongly that even after showering, I couldn’t get away from it. Cutting that field every morning gave me a whole new appreciation for the people who do it for a living, and also, for how cheap it is in the stores. But it did not make me want to eat it.
It took me almost a decade to get over that experience, but thankfully, I’m not one to give up on a food, and after a while I started to question my dislike of those beautiful green spears. When I tried them again as an adult, everything had changed (they say your tastes change every seven years or so — maybe it’s true!). Now it’s the first thing I crave when the warmer weather hits.
Now that I’m officially on the love side of the asparagus equation, this is my favorite way to prepare it — simply roasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper. And, when I’m feeling fancy, a generous topping of hazelnut gremolata.
Traditionally, gremolata is a condiment made up of chopped fresh parsley, garlic, and lemon zest, but here I like to use chopped hazelnuts — they add a wonderful crunch, and the flavor goes really well with the tender asparagus. Calling it gremolata is just a bonus, because it makes it sound like you put a lot of effort into it. (Shh! No one has to know!)
This recipe makes the perfect quick and easy side dish for just about anything, but I think my favorite way to serve it is alongside salmon, or other seafood. In fact, I can make the entire dish (pan sear the salmon, roast the asparagus, and make the gremolata) in about fifteen minutes flat — talk about fast! Plus, it’s a really healthy meal that still leaves me feeling satisfied. Not every fifteen minute meal can say that.
In case you still aren’t convinced on how easy it is, I made you a video! I’m fairly new to this whole video thang, so I’d love to know what you think — and if you like what you see, be sure to head over and subscribe to my youtube channel to stay in the up and up. (That’s what the cool kids are saying these days, right?)
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- 1 lb. asparagus
- 1-2 TBSP olive oil, or hazelnut oil
- ¼ cup roasted and skinned hazelnuts, chopped*
- 2-3 TBSP fresh parsley, chopped
- zest of 1 lemon
- Salt and pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- Trim off the woody ends of the asparagus (if you aren't sure where to cut, bend one spear until it snaps. Line it up with the rest of the asparagus, and trim them all to about the same length) and spread on a rimmed baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil, and season with a pinch of salt and pepper, and roast for 7-9 minutes, or until crisp tender.
- Meanwhile, chop the hazelnuts and parsley, and zest the lemon into a bowl. Stir to combine.
- When the asparagus is done, sprinkle the hazelnut mixture over top. Serve as is, or with lemon wedges to squeeze over.
Traditionally gremolata contains parsley, raw garlic, and lemon zest. If you'd like to add garlic to this recipe, I suggest just one clove, since raw garlic can be quite strong, very finely minced or grated on a microplane. Stir into the other ingredients, and you're good to go!
(P.S., this is also wonderful made with green beans in place of the asparagus!)