This is a yummy dish that you can quickly whip up for one, or two, or a dinner party of four. You can serve it as an appetizer or as a side vegetable. It’s especially good with fish or steak. It’s so good that it almost never makes it to the dinner table at our house; my partner and I stand around the kitchen eating the spears with our bare fingers while the rest of the food is cooking.
I first tasted seared asparagus from the grill, but learned that you can get nearly the same flavor from high-heat cooking in a frying pan. The key is not to overcook it.
RECIPE: Pan Seared Asparagus
- 1 lb pencil-thick asparagus, tough ends trimmed off. Wipe off any excess water after washing.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- salt to taste (sea salt or kosher if available)
- fresh cracked pepper to taste*
Cook in two batches:
- Heat large frying pan or skillet (nonstick works best) over high heat.
- Add 1 tablespoon of oil, let heat, then put in half the asparagus. Slide the pan back and forth a little to distribute the oil over the asparagus, and get the spears to lie in one layer.
- Sprinkle with salt and a generous amount of cracked pepper.
- Let cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the asparagus turns a bright, deep green and is flecked with sear marks. If the pan starts to smoke more than a little, turn the heat down to medium high. It is ready when it bends slightly when you pick it up, but still feels springy and has a bit of crispness to it when you bite.
Depending on the thickness of the asparagus, it should take ~7 minutes total. Place the first batch on a heatproof plate near or on the stovetop to keep it warm while you repeat steps with the next batch. When done, serve immediately. Enjoy!
* It’s very important to use fresh pepper ground from a peppermill, not pre-packaged ground pepper. If you don’t want to buy a peppermill, McCormick and other major brands now package whole peppercorns in little grinders.