~more recently updated recipes~
Original Post 2008: These days, when people talk about slow food, it's generally code for Slow Food, the Italian organization that's become an international movement, one that fights the disappearance of local food traditions, people’s dwindling interest in the food we eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.
But not me, when I write about slow food, I mean slow food quite literally, that is, food cooked unusually slowly, sloooooow food.
This obsession with all-things-slow, it started with my first forays into slow-roasted tomatoes and really picked up steam with the life-changing slow-baked potatoes. But I would never-ever-ever have guessed that asparagus – so lovely when steamed just-til-done, you know, that tender-crisp point of perfection – would turn into some entirely different vegetable when cooked for such a long time.
The inspiration came from pastry chef and cookbook author Gina DePalma. In a recent Spapshot from Italy at Serious Eats, she wrote that the Italians have an undeserved reputation for 'hammering their vegetables', cooking them til kingdom come. (Ha. I hadn't thought about the underlying meaning of that phrase! And speaking of phrases, the comments on Serious Eats are interesting, they really 'hammer' Gina for bringing an abomination to asparagus. Clearly, others could benefit from real experience with slow food!)
These are delicious! They won't replace all my other favorite asparagus recipes and they're best for fat spears of asparagus but add this recipe to an already long list of all the great ways to enjoy asparagus. Thank you, Gina, for the inspiration!
2012 Update: I take it back. These almost-creamy asparagus definitely earn a spot in my list of Six Years of Favorite Asparagus Recipes. When we took them to friends recently, there was a small fuss over who got only three spears, not four! Yes, they're that good.
"I skipped the blanching and cooked the asparagus at that temp for about 40 minutes. It was brown and crispy and so, so good." ~ Jennifer
"Boy! Was. That. Good!!!! I loved the crunchy tops." ~ Sally
"THIS IS SOOOO AMAZING!!" ~ Anonymous
Time to table: 1 hour
Water to cover, well-salted
1 pound thick spears of asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce Parmesan, grated
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
Bring the water to a boil. Preheat oven to 400F.
Meanwhile, wash asparagus well. (Optional: With a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin right up to the tips. Gina doesn't do this but I've learned to appreciate this step.) Snap off the woody end, discard (though you'll find a very tasty edible bite at the first part of the discarded end, the 'cooks treat'). Cook for 3 - 4 minutes, just until beginning to soften but still bright green. Remove from water and drain.
Spread a tablespoon of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. (Gina puts foil down for easy clean-up.) Roll the spears in the oil until they're completely covered. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the baking sheet, butted up tight against each other, the tips pointed one direction. Sprinkle spears with Parmesan, then dot with butter.
Roast for about 30 minutes, what Gina calls "roasting the heck out of them", until the asparagus is slightly browned and bubbling. Use a spatula to transfer to a serving dish.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
This would be a great way to serve fresh hot asparagus to guests – so long as there's room in the oven, plating is the only last-minute attention that's required.
If you happen to have individual oven-safe serving dishes, these would make for great presentation. The spears look soo good straight out of the oven, especially how they stick together: part of the charm is how the spears become one. Hmm. How about this? Another way to get the same affect for individual servings would be to use one roasting pan but to separate the asparagus into four separate sections, then lift onto individual plates. Yes, much easier!
2012: I happened to have banana leaves hanging around (doesn't everyone? :-) we'd made tamales the night before) and used them to wrap the spears into individual servings. Very cool looking, I'd definitely do that again.
2012: These are good enough, I recommend making extra. People will want seconds.
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MORE FAVORITE ASPARAGUS RECIPES
~ Six Years of Favorite Asparagus Recipes ~
~ Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad ~
~ Asparagus Tapenade ~
~ Roasted Aspargus with Feta ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Roasted Salmon & Asparagus ~
~ Easy-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup ~
~ Asparagus Custard Tart ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2012