Sunday, February 26, 2012

Balsamic Marinated Asparagus

Did you know that asparagus is a woody, flowering bush most closely related to onions and garlic?  Well, it is.  It even grows berries - which are poisonous to humans.  Strange, huh?  The asparagus spears that we eat are the first 8 inches or so of new growth, as anything else quickly becomes too tough.

I never ate much asparagus as a kid, but now I've come to really like it.  It's fantastic grilled, but I've been experimenting with marinating and roasting it lately to great success.  This is a simple preparation, but nonetheless full of flavor - give it a try if you need an interesting side or appetizer.

You'll only need a few ingredients.  Asparagus, obviously, is the first.  The marinade is made up of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, garlic, brown sugar, lemon pepper, salt, and a splash of lemon guide. I discovered at the last minute that I was out of the real thing, but minced garlic is preferable to the garlic powder I used.

After giving the asparagus a quick rinse, you'll need to snap off the tough bits at the bottom of the spears.  If you're making a lot of asparagus, this is most quickly accomplished by just slicing off the bottom 2 inches or so of each spear with a knife.  You can avoid waste, however, by snapping off each spear by hand.  The spears will naturally snap at just the right point if you bend them a bit from the bottom.

With the asparagus rinsed and the bottoms snapped off, combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large plastic bag.  Add the asparagus and rest in the refrigerator at least an hour, flipping over halfway.

When you're ready to cook, heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Drain away the excess marinade, and arrange the asparagus in a single layer on a lightly greased baking dish or baking sheet.

Roast the asparagus at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes until tender, turning halfway.

This dish can be served warm or room-temperature, and I particularly like it garnished with some toasted almonds.  It's a great one to bring to a get-together as an appetizer or side - it travels well, is easy to prepare, and goes over well.  Give it a try!

Recipe: Balsamic Marinated Asparagus
Prep Time: 70 Minutes | Cook Time: 20 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 4

  • 1 bunch Fresh Asparagus
  • 1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp Brown Sugar
  • 2 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Lemon Pepper
  • Salt to taste
  1. Slice or snap off bottom 1-2 inches of each asparagus spear.
  2. Combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, brown sugar, lemon juice, garlic powder, lemon pepper, and salt in a large plastic bag.  Add asparagus and marinate at least 1 hour, turning halfway.
  3. Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Grease a baking dish or baking sheet.
  4. Drain excess marinade from asparagus.  Arrange asparagus in a single layer on greased baking dish.
  5. Roast asparagus 20 minutes at 450 degrees until tender, turning halfway.
  6. Optional: Toast slivered almonds in a skillet.
  7. Serve warm or room temperature, optionally topped with toasted almonds.

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