wikiHow to Cook Asparagus in the Oven

Four Parts:Preparing the AsparagusBaking or RoastingBroilingVariations

Cooking asparagus in the oven gives it a deeper, heartier flavor, and it also makes the asparagus spears more tender. It's easy to cook this woody green vegetable by baking or broiling it!

Ingredients

Makes about 4 servings.

  • 1 pound (450 g) asparagus spears
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 ml) olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) salt
  • 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) pepper

Part 1
Preparing the Asparagus

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    Select fresh asparagus. Ripe asparagus will be a bright, vivid green, and the spears will be firm rather than flexible.[1]
    • Pay attention to the ends. The closed end or "tip" should be tight, and the cut end or "butt" should be moist.
    • Choose thick spears. Thick spears tend to maintain a better texture when cooked in the oven than thin spears do, but thin spears can also be used in a pinch.
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    Rinse the asparagus. Wash the asparagus under cool, running water, scrubbing the spears gently with your fingers.
    • Focus on the tip, since most of the dirt will wedge itself there.
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    Remove the woody ends. Hold each spear with one hand near the cut end, about 2 inches (5 cm) up or around the area where the color starts to fade. Use your other hand to snap the end off.
    • Cut the ends off with a sharp knife if you have trouble snapping them off. Use a serrated knife, rather than a smooth blade, to prevent the knife from slipping as you cut.
    • Save the ends for stock, if desired. Otherwise, discard them.
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Part 2
Baking or Roasting

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    Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (204 degrees Celsius).[2] Prepare a standard baking sheet by spraying it with nonstick cooking spray or by covering it with parchment paper.
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    Combine the asparagus and oil in a large plastic bag. Place the asparagus into a large, resealable plastic bag and drizzle the olive oil over the spears. Seal the bag and shake until the spears are evenly coated.
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    Spread the asparagus out onto your prepared baking sheet. Place the asparagus onto your baking sheet in a single layer.
    • Do not pile or stack the spears. If cooked in multiple layers, the asparagus spears may not cook evenly, causing some to finish baking while the others will still be partially raw.
    • Avoid letting the spears touch. The asparagus spears do not need to be spaced far apart, but it is generally thought best to leave a small gap of space between the spears to allow heat to disperse evenly around each one.
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    Season with salt and pepper. Lightly sprinkle the seasonings over the spears, flipping the asparagus spears over in order to season both sides.
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    Bake the asparagus until tender. Thick asparagus spears will take approximately 20 minutes to become tender.
    • Alternatively, bake the asparagus for about 12 minutes or until they are "tender-crisp" and still have a little crunchiness to them.
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    Serve warm. Remove the asparagus from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Part 3
Broiling

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    Preheat the broiler. Turn the broiler on five minutes in advance or more to make sure that the oven gets hot enough.[3]
    • Most broilers only have "on" and "off" settings. Some also have "high" and "low" settings, however. If yours has multiple settings, switch it on to "low."
    • Note that the oven will generally take quicker to warm up when preheated for broiling than it takes when preheated for baking.
    • The advantage of broiling is that foods cook in less time. As a result, the asparagus will retain more of its vitamins and minerals.
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    Place the asparagus onto a grated broiler pan. Line the asparagus up in a single layer.
    • Do not pile the spears on top of one another. The asparagus will not cook evenly in multiple layers. This is especially important to note for the broiler. Only the top heating element of the oven is used for the broiler, so any asparagus on a bottom layer would not receive enough heat.
    • Strictly speaking, a grated broiler pan is not absolutely necessary. You can use any bakeware approved for oven use, but a grated broiler pan works best since it allows air to circulate under the food, thereby preventing the oil from becoming too hot and igniting.
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    Drizzle the spears with oil. Spread the oil over the spears as evenly as possible. Flip the asparagus spears over and drizzle both sides for best results.
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    Season with salt and pepper. If you drizzled oil over all sides of the spears, sprinkle the salt and pepper over all sides, as well.
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    Broil for 5 minutes or until done.[4] Place the pan on the top rack of the oven, about 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) away from the top heating element.
    • Check the asparagus after the 5 minutes have passed. If the spears can be pierced with a knife, they are finished. If not, flip the spears over to the other side and cook an additional 5 minutes.
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    Serve warm. Allow the asparagus to cool slightly, but serve them while they are still warm.

Part 4
Variations

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    Add additional seasonings before cooking the asparagus. If you want to add more depth to the flavor of your asparagus, try adding a few different spices and seasonings as you add the salt and pepper.
    • Sprinkle 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) garlic powder or onion powder for an aromatic, savory effect.
    • Replace the salt and pepper with equal amounts of seasoned salt for a bolder, more well-rounded taste.
    • For a spicier approach, add 1 tsp (5 ml) chili powder or 1/4 tsp (1.25 ml) crushed red pepper.
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    Give the asparagus a flavor boost after pulling the spears out of the oven. Certain juices and vinegars can be drizzled over the asparagus immediately after you pull them out of the oven.
    • Drizzle 1 to 2 Tbsp (15 to 30 ml) of lemon juice or lime juice for a fresh zing.
    • For a sweet taste with a hint of tanginess, drizzle 1 Tbsp (15 ml) balsamic vinegar over the asparagus.
    • Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the cooked asparagus after transferring it to serving plates for a flavorful and visually-appealing finish.
    • Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) toasted almonds to the asparagus and toss lightly to mix. Serve at room temperature.
    • Give the asparagus a mild Asian flair by drizzling 2 tsp (10 ml) sesame oil over the spears. Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds after plating.

Tips

  • Use the asparagus as quickly as possible. The sugars in asparagus start to break down as soon as it's harvested, which means that the vegetable loses more of its sweetness the longer it's stored.

Things You'll Need

  • Serrated knife
  • Resealable plastic bag
  • Baking sheet
  • Parchment paper
  • Broiler pan

Article Info

Categories: Basic Cooking Skills