It's asparagus season here. I've been gazing at asparagus in the grocery stores, but haven't bought it, since I've been traveling and eating on the run. But today I had no excuse not to bring it home, treat it to a drink of water, admire the lovely stalks, then lop the ends, toss it in olive oil and roast those suckers till they sizzled.
Choose the fattest asparagus you can find. This guarantees the most tender inside flesh. Then store them in an inch or so of water, in the refrigerator if you don't use it the same day. The best way to trim the ends is to bend them until they break off, which will be at the exact point where they're too tough to eat. (You will notice this significantly diminishes the amount of asparagus you have; buy more than you think you'll need. One bunch usually feeds three people with polite appetites.)
After discovering roasted asparagus in Deborah Madison's cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, I rarely cook it any other way. It's also nice as garnish for a salad, placed crossways over the top of a spring mix.
The recipe is simple: After trimming the ends, toss in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, lay the stalks on a baking sheet and cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes at 400 degrees, then remove foil and bake another 10 minutes until the tips just start to brown. Remove from the oven, squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the top, and serve.
Asparagus is good for you too, especially if you're pregnant: it's high in folate, a vitamin that prevents birth defects. It also contains an amino acid called asparagine, a diuretic, and inulin, which promotes a healthy gut. And we all want a healthy gut, don't we?