Yield: 4 servings
- 1 bunch (1 lb.) fresh asparagus
- 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 tsp. aged balsamico*
Snap the tough base of each asparagus stalk off, and trim all the ends to remove any ragged bits. Bring a medium-large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tsp. salt. Blanch the asparagus spears for 1-2 minutes (you want the water to come back to the boil, but some stoves are slower than others.) You don’t want them completely cooked, just partially. Remove with a tongs, and plunge into a bowl of icy-cold water. As soon as they are cooled down and the cooking stopped, in about 30 seconds, fish the out. Dry on a towel.
Preheat the oven—whatever you’re cooking in it, the asparagus will be fine, from 325-450°F. If you’re just cooking asparagus, set the oven for 400°F. Or, light the grill. If using the oven, lay the asparagus out on a sheet pan, preferably non-aluminum, or cover the pan with parchment paper. Season asparagus lightly with salt & pepper, and drizzle with the olive oil. Roast until just starting to brown in spots. Remove to a platter, and drizzle with the aged balsamic. Serve warm.
To grill, toss with the olive oil in a bowl, lay out on the grill, and let cook until some brown spots form on the bottom, turn, then remove a minute or two later.
*Aged balsamic is costly. It is thick, syrupy, and delicious. A “cheat” to get a similar result, is to cook down some regular balsamic until it gets syrupy. You want to reduce it by about half, on the stove over a medium flame. It keeps for a long time so start with a cup, enough to end up with at least ½ cup at the end. If you over-reduce it and it is too thick, thin with some more balsamic. Be careful—it can burn if left unattended, and that will ruin the balsamic and make cleaning the pan difficult, too!