This baked asparagus recipe was inspired by a couple of lovely big and good value bunches of asparagus that I knew wouldn't keep too long - and which I couldn't bear to waste.
I pretty much love asparagus no matter how it's cooked. But... I have a weakness for oven cooked vegetables in general and I find that cooking asparagus in the oven allows it to drink in some wonderful flavours that it loves. Three of those flavours are butter, lemon and parmesan.
½ tablespoon of olive oil
450g/1 pound of asparagus
Grated zest of half a lemon
¼ teaspoon of salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon of butter
3 tablespoons of grated parmesan or parmesan style cheese (vegetarian parmesan is not always easy to find)
You will also need a shallow ovenproof dish, ideally an au gratin dish. A Le Creuset stoneware au gratin dish is perfect for this. I like these because they are a good size, excellent quality and look great, especially to bring to the table after cooking. They are also a lot more affordable than Le Creuset enamelled cast iron.
Preheat the oven to a high heat - 450F/220C.
Snap the woody ends off the stalks and wash the asparagus well.
Use the olive oil to grease your au gratin dish, then arrange the asparagus in the dish. They don't need to fit in a single layer but it's better not to pile them up too high so make sure your dish can accommodate the spears in a couple of layers.
Sprinkle the grated lemon zest over the asparagus, season with the salt and pepper, then dot with butter.
Finally top with the grated cheese, then cover the dish with foil. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, remove the foil then cook for a further 10-15 minutes until the baked asparagus is tender and the cheese is slightly golden.
This dish will serve 4 people as a side dish or 2 people as a simple supper served with some crusty bread.