Remember the most beautiful asparagus ever purchased from the farmer's market? Of course you do. How could you forget them.
I checked in with Deborah Madison's cookbook Local Flavors (given to me for my birthday last year by my former roommate, Lesley -- so thoughtful!) since these asparagus epitomize seasonal eating for me, I wanted to be sure to treat them with the springtime respect they deserve. She has a number of great asparagus recipes, but I wanted to let their flavor shine through the strongest, so I went with the following:
Roasted Asparagus with Citrus Butter
1 1/2 pounds asparagus
1 teaspoon olive oil
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup citrus juice
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, chopped into chunks
1 teaspoon grated citrus zest
If the asparagus is thin, snap off the tough parts of the stalks where they break naturally. If thick, slice off the tough ends with a knife.
Soak the asparagus in cold water while you preheat the oven to 425F, then drain and put them in a gratin dish. They needn't be dry. Toss with the oil and season with the salt. Bake until the stalks are tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 20-40 minutes, depending on their thickness.
Boil the juice in a small skillet until it has reduced to about 1 1/2 tablespoons. Remove from the heat, whisk in the butter, then add the zest, a pinch of salt, and some pepper. When the asparagus is done, remove it to a platter and spoon the sauce over it.
Yum. The citrus butter was easy and fun to make, and really did complement the asparagus well. It also spread well on bread later in the week, but look out for a serious kick of lemon.