The beauty of cooking asparagus is that it’s best when left to humble methods with few ingredients. Simply grilled with a little olive oil, salt & pepper is divine. Steamed with a squeeze of lemon and garlic salt is incredible. Asparagus doesn’t need much to be an amazing side dish.
This recipe follows suit: few ingredients and a simple preparation. I stumbled upon this recipe while reading Deborah Madison’s Vegetable Literacy (a phenomenal book/cookbook). It called for braising the asparagus. I was curious; I haven’t done a lot of braising — it’s a technique I tend to shy away from because in my head it’s synonymous with “it takes a really long time.” Well, apparently it doesn’t. This dish is ready in 20 minutes. It’s fantastically simple and enormously flavorful. The veg is cooked just past al dente and you’re left with a light buttery sauce you can soak bread in. It makes for a nice, light meal or a hearty companion.
Tip: when you’re prepping your asparagus (cutting or snapping the tough ends off), don’t toss them out…save them to flavor the broth of an asparagus soup! And if you’re not going to use them right away, just put them in a freezer bag for later. I’ve got a baggie of asparagus ends in the freezer as we speak…along with other (cleaned) veggie scraps that I’m saving up to make veggie stock. You can do this with mushroom stems, too!
Braised Asparagus & Spring Onions
1 bunch asparagus, tough ends trimmed off (about 10 ounces after trimmed)
1 bunch spring onions (about 6 – 8 medium sized onions), root ends trimmed off
1 cup vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons butter or vegan butter (such as Earth Balance), divided
salt and pepper to taste
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large cast iron or oval pan over medium heat (I used two small to medium sized cast iron pans); the butter should foam but not turn brown. Add the asparagus, spring onions, a pinch of salt and vegetable stock (if the asparagus and spring onions don’t fit in your pan, cut them in half– this is what I did). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until veggies are tender, about 10 minutes.
Add remaining tablespoon of butter and swirl pan to melt and incorporate into the stock, creating a thin sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with bread for soaking up any sauce. Enjoy!