pan-roasted asparagus


Asparagus was part of one of my worst eating experiences. I was spending a few weeks traveling, working with one of the top researchers in my field. She’s an intimidating woman, known for her arrogance and her temper. Fortunately, what little contact I had with her was generally pleasant. She even invited me to her house for dinner a couple times.


The first time, she served chicken, asparagus and rustic bread she’d bought at a bakery. The asparagus was horrendous. It was grossly overcooked, plus too little of the woody barely chewable ends had been trimmed. It was all I could do to eat it without gagging, but I had to be polite, especially since I was sort of scared of my host.


This is not that asparagus. This is lightly browned, tender but still crisp at the center. It’s also easy – just put the asparagus and some salt in a lightly oiled, hot, not nonstick pan, and cook it for a few minutes, giving the pan an occasional shake. Squeeze on some lemon juice, grind a bit of black pepper over the top, and try to erase all of your bad vegetable memories.


One year ago: Sichuan Green Beans

Pan-Roasted Asparagus

Serves 2

Note: Choose thin (less than ½-inch in diameter) asparagus for this recipe, as the thicker stalks won’t cook through evenly. Trim the asparagus by bending each stalk until it snaps. To double the recipe, use a 12-inch skillet.

1 teaspoon olive oil
8 ounces asparagus, washed and trimmed (see Note)
generous pinch salt
1 teaspoon lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a medium not nonstick skillet over medium heat until it’s hot. (I judge based on the viscosity of the oil – the thinner, the hotter.) Add the asparagus in a single layer and stir or shake to coat with oil. Continue to cook the asparagus until it’s crisp-tender, 5-8 minutes.



  1. VeggieGirl says:

    Not a good memory tied to the asparagus, haha ;-) But I’m glad that you were able to overcome the experience and enjoy this lovely spring vegetable!!

  2. Kira says:

    Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables. I’m so glad it’s in season right now!

  3. Joelen says:

    Amazing how even a simple food can be prepared horribly… sorry you had to experience that with asparagus!

  4. Debbie says:

    I love asparagus cooked this way. Delicious!

  5. Laura says:

    This is perfect since I just bought asparagus and didn’t want to boil them like usual…looks good!

  6. I looooove pan-roasting my asparagus! When I’m feeling crafty, I sometimes roast it in sesame oil and a little touch of soy sauce. Dee-freakin-licious.

  7. Katie says:

    Your pictures of asparagus are so beautiful it makes it look super yum! The price here is so low on asparagus, we’ve been buying it a lot! Love it roasted in a pan or in the oven on a cookie sheet!

  8. Mary Ellen says:

    There is nothing worse than mushy, overcooked asparagus! Your asparagus looks amazing – still so bright green! I have only roasted it in the oven, but will have to try it in a pan. Your pictures are beautiful, as always!

  9. Beautiful Photos!

  10. Manggy says:

    Hee, my memories of asparagus are generally good. It begins with eating canned cream of asp soup as a kid, lol. Most of the time, it’s *me* who does the messing up of cooking them! Thanks for this much easier recipe!

  11. Debby says:

    First, I had to stop and admire your photography. Lovely, lovely, lovely.
    Then I smacked myself in the forehead– why have I never thought to pan roast my asparagus instead of using a blazing hot oven?! Duh.
    Next time, I’m doing it your way. Like you, soggy asparagus does not work. Yuk!

  12. WEndy says:

    YUM! I love asparagus.

  13. maris says:

    I love roasted asparagus, especially this time of year! Your photos are gorgeous!

  14. Courtney says:

    I made this recently and absoutely loved it! I’ve only ever had asparagus steamed (thankfully not overcooked, though), so I was excited to try a different method. Thanks for the wonderful recipe!

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