Sure, sure. I know I said Boy was going to this summer, but when your kid ASKS you to try asparagus, what are you going to do?
Boy is almost ten and he's never had asparagus before. This is because Husband and I break veggies down into three categories:
- Mm-mmm, good.
- Meh. I'll eat it.
- This tastes like the ground no matter how much barbeque sauce you put on it.
For Husband, asparagus falls clearly into category 3. For me, category 2. So, why bother trying it now?
Family was watching Restaurant: Impossible (with Robert Irvine. The other guy… woof. He swears more than I do…). Robert Irvine plated steak and mashed potatoes with asparagus, pointing out it's a natural match up. Boy looked at me and said, "When can I try asparagus?"
So, OK. We'd try asparagus.
Step 0: Pick your recipe.
I didn't so much pick a recipe as post a plea on Facebook. Several people responded to my plea. The upshot was their kids all liked asparagus roasted with salt and pepper. Maybe some parmesan. Easy-peasy. I make broccoli the same way (which Boy also loves).
Step 1: Wash your hands.
Yup. I'm going to say it every time. Wash your hands. Clean up your workspace if necessary. Remember that kids won't wash between their fingers or the backs of their hands if you don't tell them. They won't check their fingernails. Heck, some won't even use soap. Teach them how to wash for cooking and baking and supervise.
Step 2: Gather your ingredients.
- One bunch of asparagus
- Extra virgin olive oil
- (Pepper is optional. Boy doesn't like it, so we skipped it)
Step 3: Prep the asparagus.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus. This is in fact the real reason I wanted to make asparagus. I'd read that instead of chopping the ends of the asparagus off, you can grasp each end and bend the stalk. It will magically snap at the perfect spot between woody and tender.
It totally works. Your kid can do it without risking his fingertips. However, you may end up with asparagus on the floor (not that we did… over and over again), so… clean your floor or don't share the food, I guess.
Place the asparagus spears on a jelly roll pan (like a cookie sheet but with four sides). Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt. Boy did all of this while I watched like a hawk for too much oil.
Using your hands (or your kid's hands), roll the spears around so they are completely coated in the oil and salt.
Pop in the preheated oven for 10 – 15 minutes. The "skin" of the asparagus will bubble up a bit and brown. The "flower" part will get brown and a bit crisp.
Step 4: Clean up.
So few ingredients made clean up a breeze. Mostly, we just had to put the salt and oil away, throw away the asparagus bag, and save the asparagus rubber bands.
Step 5. Enjoy.
Ben LOVED the asparagus. We made the entire bunch and he ate more than half the spears. He'd have eaten more, except I demanded my share. I loved asparagus cooked this way, too! We ate our asparagus with sausage, cheese, apples, and crackers for lunch.
Step 6. Critique and plan ahead.
- Asparagus, yum!
- Seriously, if you made me a bowl of roasted asparagus tops, I'd totally eat them like popcorn.
- Can we have asparagus with steak and mashed potatoes for dinner? (We did. Three days later. Grilled. Boy preferred roasted because there was less char.)
I told a friend about our asparagus experiment and she told us about "crispy kale." We'll be trying that next!
If you try roasted asparagus, let us know what your kids think!
And a special thanks to Nancy, Kristin A., Graham, Kim K., Ruchi, Lisa L., and Lisa C. for providing encouragement and the technique!
By the way, if you still need a cake, check out Sweetapolita's Asparagus Cake.
Now, get cooking!