What can one say about sautéed asparagus? Not too much, I’m afraid, except for the fact that it’s delicious and oh, so simple! Most cooks will blanch the asparagus first before sautéing, but I prefer not to blanch the asparagus. I find that it overcooks it, and besides, sautéing this delicate delight will most certainly bring out the bright green colour. And isn’t that the point of blanching? (Kinda!) Well, I digress!
Did you know that asparagus has been used as a vegetable and as a medicine? It is pictured as an offering on an Egyptian piece of art dating to 3000 BC. In ancient times, it was also known in Syria and in Spain. Greeks and Romans ate it fresh when in season, and dried the vegetable for use in winter; Romans even froze it high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus created the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable, and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. A recipe for cooking asparagus is in the oldest surviving book of recipes, Apicius’ third-century AD De re coquinaria, Book III. Quite this history this little vegetable has!
- 1 bunch asparagus, 12-15 spears, washed and trimmed
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- In a cast iron skillet - you MUST use a cast iron skillet when sautéing asparagus; I swear it adds to the overall flavour - over medium high heat, melt the butter and olive oil.
- Once sizzling, add the asparagus, salt and pepper.
- Using tongs, gently turn the asparagus in the butter.
- Sauté for 3-5 minutes.
- Once done, turn off the heat and add the fresh lemon zest and fresh lemon juice.
- Turn the asparagus gently to coat with the zest and juice.
- Serve immediately!