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

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

  4. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. YUM! I love asparagus.

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

  14. 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!