The simplest plate of a single vegetable is sometimes the best plate on the table.
I'm a staunch proponent of roasting vegetables to bring out their flavors and concentrate their sweetness and I dearly love to roast asparagus. But these California babies are sautéed and boy are they delicious.
Good olive oil, sel de guérande, a squeeze of Meyer lemon juice - those and the freshest asparagus you can find along with a light hand with the sauté pan are all you will need.
Oh Happy Spring!
Sautéed Asparagus with Sel de Guérande and Meyer Lemon
1 pound fresh asparagus
1-2 teaspoons good, fruity olive oil
A pinch or two of a good fleur de sel (French sea salt, see my sidebar)
Juice from 1/2 of a small Meyer lemon plus extra wedges for serving
Gently wash the asparagus under cool water. Pat dry with a dish towel.
Pick up a spear with both hands, holding it as if you were going to bite into an ear of corn.
Gently bend the spear and allow it to snap where it wants, using your thumbs to help bend the spear. (This ensures that the woody end will not end up on your plate. If your asparagus spears are very thin and don't have woody ends, you could lay them out on a cutting board so the bottom ends align, then cut off about one inch of those ends.)
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan 12-inch pan (I use cast iron for this) over medium high.
When the oil is hot but not smoking, lower the heat to medium, add the asparagus in a single layer, sprinkle with a generous pinch of sea salt and let cook for 2 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to coat each spear with olive oil.
Using tongs, gently turn the spears so they can cook on all sides, no more than another 3 minutes. The spears should be easy to bite into with just a little resistance - in other words, al dente.
Remove the pan from the heat and squeeze the lemon juice over the spears. Shake the pan to distribute the juices and using the tongs, transfer the asparagus to warm plates.
Sprinkle with another pinch of sea salt if desired and serve with additional wedges of Meyer lemon.
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