Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Roasted Asparagus and Baby Potatoes

A post waiting since early spring, but better late than never

When nature provides most of the flavor, all you need at the most is a little salt and pepper, and a perfect example of that is asparagus in springtime. A drizzle of olive oil clinches it further. Asparagus can be cooked in many different ways like lightly blanched, steamed, or sauteed, but my favorite method is roasting. And while roasted asparagus is wonderful on its own, there is something even better about pairing it with small or new potatoes.

Asparagus: straight from the market

Seriously good eating with a minimalist approach, this is one of my favorite things to make right after I return from the farmers market on weekends in spring for a meal that doesn't require too much effort.

I start the potatoes first because they take longer to cook, and while I put away the purchases and trim the asparagus to remove the lower woody end, it is usually about time to send those in to the oven for their sojourn. Once those are in, I start working on the rest of the meal. That could be soft scrambled or poached eggs with toast, or capellini, which cooks pretty quickly, tossed with some pesto and grated parmesan. The latter is especially wonderful in early summer, when basil starts to come along and we are not yet spring-ed out on asparagus. Sometimes, just soft polenta works beautifully too. So many easy combinations, none of which demand much precision.

Asparagus and new potatoes: roasted

I realized after viewing the pictures that the plate should have been flipped since the light was coming in from the left, which would have highlighted the asparagus and the potatoes would have reflected less light. Always learning.

Roasted New Potatoes, Asparagus

Ingredients

new potatoes
a bunch of asparagus
coarse salt
black pepper, coarsely ground from the peppermill
a couple of tablespoons of olive oil

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. If you are making a larger batch, then up it to 400 degrees.

Wash and clean the potatoes. If the potatoes are tiny, use them whole. If slightly larger, then halved, and if even larger, then quartered. You get the point. Rub them with olive oil, season with coarse salt and pepper, and place them skin side down on one side of a roasting pan or baking sheet.

After 20-25 minutes, repeat the oil, salt, and pepper for the asparagus, add them next to the potatoes, and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of the asparagus. For the ultra slim variety 10 minutes is enough. Roll them around once mid-way. Keep an eye on the roasting pan and adjust baking time accordingly. Ideally, but not necessarily, the potatoes and asparagus would be ready at the same time.

13 comments:

KayKat said...

Mmm ... fresh asparagus - the perfect sign of spring :)

Uma said...

looks so delicious and fresh.

Miri said...

Looks very summery and satisfying - any ideas what I can use instead of asparagus? Thanks

Richa said...

there you are, with one more of your simple but extremely beautiful creations!! thanks for the ideas on accompaniments as well :)

Nandita said...

love your creations :)

Ashwini said...

Though I like asparagus once in while after eating it I feel as if my skin, my hair, my whole 'aura' smells of the vege (like methi) :D
Have you tried Garten's parmesan crusted asparagus... you'd love it.

Maryann said...

Here in NY, our first crops in Spring are asparagus and peas. I always look forward to that first taste of these vegetables. I like your photo.."always learning"..yes, aren't we all? :)

TheCooker said...

Beautiful! I can see how well polenta would go with these.

Ashwini, it is not the skin, hair etc. that stinks ;)

Manisha said...

TC, don't hold back. Do tell us what exactly does stink. :-D

evolvingtastes said...

KayKat, yes it is. That, and strawberries. And get clicking those beans now, I say.

Uma, thanks.

Miri, with the combinations suggested in the post, you could try fresh tender green beans and give them the same treatment. Other than that, I cannot think of a substitute for the actual taste of asparagus.

Richa, you know me - a firm believer that simple does not have to be boring. :)

Nandita, thanks a lot.

Ashwini, thanks for the tip! I looked it up and tried it out today itself since I was roasting some asparagus anyway. Loved the squirt of lemon. Which reminded me that my FIRST ever intro to asparagus was with ravioli in lemon cream sauce. I almost didn't eat the asparagus because I wasn't sure what it was.

Maryann, welcome here, co-judge. Thanks. I didn't mean it quite so philosophically, but now that you say it, indeed.

TheCooker, polenta is amazingly versatile. Roasted veggies of any kind are perfect with it. Hahaha, about your comment to Ashwini. I was wondering how to say it ahem, discreetly. :-)

Manisha, for everyone's benefit, here is the link that the wise cooker sent to me.

Asha said...

Love fresh tender Asparagus any time!:)

प्रिया said...

Nice Creation, ET! Before roasting the asparagus, do you break off the lower portion of the stem? When I cooked asparagus for the first time, a friend asked me to do this, I am not sure why...

evolvingtastes said...

प्रिया, my apologies for responding so late. Traveling, house-guests, and other things had kept me away from the blog for quite a while. Your observation is spot on. Yes, I do break off the tough lower end, which can be quite woody and tasteless after it is cooked. That is what I meant by trimming the asparagus, but I have updated the blog now to make it more clear. Thanks for bring that to my attention!

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