In the early Spring the markets showcase tender, thin stalks of baby asparagus. For a completely new way to serve them, try these sheet pan roasted asparagus with a tangy citrus dressing. Additional bits of fresh orange, toasted pecan and feta cheese take this oven roasted asparagus to new heights. Delicious with pork, chicken and fish.
Choosing Baby Asparagus
My inspiration for this pan roasted asparagus started at the farmers market. They had some beautiful baby asparagus displayed within arms reach of an avalanche of shallots and oranges. Here are some tell tale signs that the asparagus is fresh:
- The thinner the asparagus, the younger it is — thicker asparagus isn’t a bad thing, and can be just as delicious. If you can’t find those thinner stalks, this dish will be good with thicker ones as well.
- Look for bright green or purplish tinged spears with firm stems.
- Look for tightly closed, compact tips.
- When the bunch is squeezed, it should actually squeak.
Ingredients For Pan Roasted Asparagus
- Baby Asparagus
- Feta Cheese
Asparagus is one of those versatile veggies — it’s great blanched or steamed with a light hollandaise or garlicky aioli. Scott likes asparagus on the Weber and prides himself on getting those telltale grill marks on the spears without letting the baby asparagus spears slip through the grates, however, I thought I’d save him the trouble and oven roast them instead. To me, roasting intensifies the flavor and is the ultimate in ease and convenience. We could all use a little more of that in our lives, right?
Trimming and Roasting Baby Asparagus
- Trim the tougher ends from the asparagus. To do this, hold an asparagus spear at about the halfway point and grab the end, bend it until it naturally breaks. You can use this as a guide and trim the rest of the asparagus in one or two swipes with a sharp knife, or continue trimming each one individually.
- Place the baby asparagus on the sheet pan along with the pecans and shallots.
- Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and toss with your hands to coat.
- Roast in a hot oven for 10 minutes, then flip the asparagus shallots and pecans with a spatula. Continue roasting for an additional 5 minutes. You want the asparagus to be tender crisp. Test one and if it needs a minute or two longer, continue roasting.
Fresh citrus always brightens up a recipe and look at how juicy and sweet these oranges are!!! Also, check out that cool knife, too! Its a bird’s beak paring knife and was one of my Christmas presents from Scott. It’s made specifically for cutting away the rind on citrus and it works for supreming them as well (though it takes a little practice).
Ingredients For The Citrus Dressing
- Orange Zest
- Dijon Mustard
- Red or White Wine Vinegar
- Olive Oil
To Make The Citrus Dressing
- Zest the orange and add it to a small prep bowl. (After you’ve zested the orange, you can cut away the rind and supreme it into segments.
- Add the dijon mustard, vinegar, honey, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Whisk until the dressing emulsifies.
- Taste for seasonings and adjust as needed.
To Assemble the Dish
- Arrange the baby asparagus on the platter and top with the toasted nuts, roasted shallots, diced orange and crumbled feta cheese.
- Drizzle some of the citrus dressing over the top of the vegetables and serve.
Pan roasted baby asparagus can be served warm or at room temperature and would make an excellent side dish for a weekend brunch or cookout. There’s so many complimentary flavors and textures here, you’ll never get bored.
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Oven Roasted Asparagus with Oranges and Pecans
- 1 pound asparagus spears
- 1 orange zested and supremed -- see note below
- 1/4 cup pecans chopped
- 1 shallot peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup feta cheese or goat cheese, crumbled
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon white or red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons honey preferably orange blossom
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For The Asparagus
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Trim ends of asparagus at their natural breaking point. Bend a stalk of asparagus until it breaks. Use the trimmed stalk as a guide to cut the rest of the asparagus in the same general place. Discard tough ends.
- Place the asparagus on a baking sheet. Add the shallots and pecans. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat. Arrange in a single layer on the pan and roast for 10 minutes. Flip with a spatula and roast for an additional 5 minutes or until the asparagus is tender, but still bright green.
For The Vinaigrette
- Combine the orange zest, dijon mustard, vinegar, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Whisk until emulsified. Set aside.
Assemble The Dish:
- Arrange the asparagus spears on a platter. Top with pecan-shallot mixture. Sprinkle with the oranges and cheese. Spoon the vinaigrette over the top of the asparagus and serve. This can be served warm or at room temperature.
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