Fresh, tender asparagus has started making is appearance at our local markets on the East coast. Its arrival means that spring has officially sprung! This roasted asparagus with gremolata and toasted pine nuts is a delicious twist on one of the classic ways of cooking this spring vegetable.
When it comes to cooking asparagus, you can blanch it, simmer it, steam it, roast it, grill it, stir-fry it, or, just eat it raw in salads. You really can’t go wrong with any of these methods. Roasting it with just a little olive oil, salt and pepper, however, is by far the simplest way to enjoy sweet, luscious and slightly caramelized asparagus.
Gremolata is an Italian condiment that is used to finish simply prepared vegetable dishes or grilled proteins. It is a mixture or parsley, garlic and lemon and, when added to warm, just-cooked vegetables, it really renders an unbelievable depth of flavor to the dish. This recipe adds some toasted pine nuts for crunch, and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice to brighten and round up the flavor of this delicious spring vegetable.
- 3 TBSP. pine nuts, toasted
- 2 TBSP. olive oil
- 1 lb. asparagus
- ---- ---- salt and freshly ground pepper
- ---- ---- zest of 1 large lemon
- 2 med. garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 TBSP. fresh lemon juice
- ⅓ cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
- Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
- Spread the pine nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and toast, tossing once, until lightly golden, about 4-5 minutes.
- Trim the asparagus by snapping off the woody bottoms. To do this, hold a spear with both hands and find the natural bending point near the bottom of the stalk. Then snap. (Make sure your hands are near the bottom, or you risk discarding too much.) The asparagus spear should break at a point where it has started to lose its moisture. If your asparagus is medium or fat in size, use a vegetable peeler and peel from the middle of the spear towards the root end to remove the tough skin.
- Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the toasted pine nuts to a small bowl. Arrange the asparagus spears on the same baking sheet, and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for about 10 or 12 minutes, depending on their size.
- While the asparagus is roasting, prepare the gremolata. Chop the fresh parsley, mince the garlic and zest a lemon. Mix everything in a small bowl and set aside.
- Remove the asparagus from the oven, drizzle with the lemon juice and top with the Parmesan cheese. Toss well to combine. Transfer to a serving platter and sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts and the gremolata. Serve immediately.
Ingredients for the Gremolata & Toasted Pine Nuts
Roasted asparagus, topped with Gremolata, toasted pine nuts and lemon juice. (Forgot the shaved Parmesan for this photo!)
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