What is spring without asparagus? Here is the best way to prepare the green-as-spring spring spear that looks like a miniature tree when standing on its end. Foolproof and fabulous, roasted asparagus is a hit at all parties and everyone seems to love it. No large pots of boiling water to deal with, no unpleasant aromas wafting through the kitchen, and much less chance of over-cooking. The flavor is intensified and they are easy to eat. Don’t use the pencil-thin spears, go for the thicker ones for best results. There are 12 to 16 spears per pound of asparagus. Often I don’t even bother with a sauce here since they taste so good plain. Slather with butter that has been kneaded with grated lemon zest just out of the oven to melt, or add some lemon zest and a bit of juice to some sour cream. I also sometimes sprinkle just before serving with a big cup of toasted pecan pieces. Day old cold roasted asparagus is good on a salad.
•Choose asparagus that is perky, not at all limp (it’s usually sold in 1-pound bundles)
•The tough bottom end will snap off at its natural breaking point
3 pounds medium-thick stalks asparagus, ends snapped off with your hands; discard tough ends
1/2 cup olive oil
Sea salt or fine Himalayan pink salt, for sprinkling
A dozen grinds of black pepper
Preheat oven to 425º. Divide the asparagus between 2 and 3 baking sheets. Spread in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet ( you can line with foil or parchment if desired). Toss the spears with the olive oil, coating them nicely and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake, uncovered and shaking the pan once or twice to turn the asparagus, until just tender when pierced with the tip of a sharp knife, about 10 minutes, depending upon thickness. You can bake two pans at once if you like, but switch the positions halfway through. Or else just roast one pan at a time; this goes fast so I often do this. Transfer to a serving platter. Serve warm or let cool to room temperature, cover and carry to DC. Can be made the day before, covered, and refrigerated overnight. Serves 8 to 12.