The Ultimate Roasted Asparagus
It's healthy to be suspicious of blanket statements, but as a general rule, there is no vegetable that doesn't benefit from a little roasting. In fact, I'd be willing to say that roasting is the superlative way with veggies. It caramelizes the outside, traps juices inside and intensifies flavor, rather than boiling it away. There is no other way I'd rather eat brussel(s) sprouts, for instance, or asparagus.
And this is my favorite way to roast asparagus. It is the best way, in fact, to roast asparagus. Now, you can disagree with me all you want, tell me simply roasted with olive oil and a little salt, is perfect, perhaps with a squeeze of lemon at the end. Maybe. But this one is still my favorite. For one thing, combining mayonnaise and mustard is one of those perfect mingling of flavors, creamy, the fresh taste of dairy, pitted against the bite of mustard. There is nothing I'd rather have holding on my bread crumbs.
Reduced fat mayonnaise is fine, you won't notice the difference once the oven's heat gets involved. And when choosing your asparagus, in this case, avoid those slender stalks, all elegance and fragility, and go for the meatier ones. They'll hold the coating better, and there will be more surface area for your mayonnaise/mustard mixture. You can prepare the asparagus right up to the baking phase, and refridgerate until just before party time if you intend to use them as hors d'oeuvres. Or bake them right off and top with a poached egg for a light meal. I'll give you the recipe basically as it appears in Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven's The Way We Cook, because I stopped measuring these ingredients long ago and just started tasting.
Roasted Asparagus with Panko Bread Crumbs
Slightly Adopted from Sheryl Julian and Julie Riven's The Way We Cook
1/4 cup mayonnaise, reduced fat is fine
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 pound thick asparagus spears, tough ends removed
Oven preheated to 450F, baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pie pans and cake pans are good for this use, as they tend to be shallow. In another shallow bowl or pan, pour the Panko. Roll the asparagus spears first in the mustard mixture, then roll in the panko and place immediately on the prepared baking sheet.
Roast for about 13 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. The crumbs should turn a golden brown, and the spears should be tender, but not soggy. Sprinkle with a bit more salt if you'd like, or another squeeze of lemon. Serve right away, either by themselves, or crowned with a poached egg.