Even the best laid plans need room to change, adapt, and grow. When I walked in to the test kitchen (aka, my regular kitchen still in disarray after a cross-country move), my intention was to create a spring vegetable and lentil salad with a classic lemon dressing. Somewhere in the steps from the fridge to my workstation, that plan went out the window, and I’m happy it did.
What resulted is a delicious roasted asparagus dish that is easy to put together, and tastes just as good warm, at room temperature, AND cold — making this perfect for a potluck and a leftovers hero. Though the recipe is written for asparagus, the I’ve also made it with broccoli and zucchini, and I am willing to bet it would be great with carrots as well.
The wildcard in this recipe is the lemon salsa. A whole lemon is thinly sliced, then seared until the edges caramelize and take on a burnt-in-a-good-way flavor. The key here is to use a good nonstick pan, and to just let the lemon slices do their thing for a solid 2-3 minutes per side. Set a timer – it’s longer than you think.
- 1 pound asparagus tough ends trimmed
- 1 small lemon
- ¼ cup feta cheese crumbled
- ¼ cup mint loosely packed and torn into small pieces
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Toss the trimmed asparagus spears with 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil, so they are well coated. Transfer to a sheet tray or ceramic baking dish in an even layer. (It’s okay if they are touching each other, but there shouldn’t be a lot of overlap.) Season with salt and pepper.
- Roast them in a 375ºF oven for 20-25 minutes, flipping once about halfway through, or until the asparagus is tender and a little brown around the edges.
- While the asparagus is roasting, slice a small lemon into ¼” slices, removing any seeds. Add a drizzle of olive oil to a small non-stick skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Add the lemon slices to the pan in an even layer, and allow them to sizzle for 2-3 minutes per side (without stirring!) until they have started to caramelize. Remove from the pan and allow to cool slightly.
- When they are cool enough to handle, chop the caramelized lemon slices very finely, then transfer to a small bowl. Stir in about two tablespoons of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the asparagus is ready, transfer to the dish you plan to serve in, or just leave them in the baking dish. Sprinkle the feta, crushed red pepper, and prepared lemon salsa over the roasted asparagus. Top with the mint leaves and serve. This dish can be enjoyed warm, room temperature, or cold.