In search of a flavorful yet low-effort side dish? These beautiful garlic lemon roasted asparagus would definitely answer to that! The asparagus tops get charred and crispy in contrast to the tender spears. Easy flavors like fresh lemon, garlic and onion powder make this dish a zesty and savory treat you could eat on its own.
To make it even better, I used my mushroom salt to enhance the flavors. You can use store-bought mushroom salt, herb salt or simply regular salt too, but mushroom salt makes everything more savory and umami. Delicious!
Asparagus are a low calorie beautiful spring vegetable that can provide you with a lot of nutrients. They contain a lot of Vitamin K which is important to avoid blood clotting and increase bone health.
Also, vitamin A and E for eye health, and vitamin C for repairing and developing body tissues (including collagen!). The high level of folate is good for a healthy pregnancy, for cell growth and for DNA formation.
Asparagus are also a good source of antioxidants, their fiber can improve digestion and they can lower your blood pressure due to high levels of potassium. Bottomline - a pretty decent veggie!
What parts of the asparagus are edible
The asparagus has mainly 3 different parts; the tops, the spears and the stems. The top is pretty self-explanatory, it is the decorative top of the asparagus and is thin and a little bushy.
These are the best part of the asparagus (in my opinion) and when roasted like in this recipe, they even become crispy and could be eaten as a snack alone - they're that good.
The stems are the white/purple-ish part at the other end of the asparagus, usually about 3 inches (7 ½ centimeters) from the bottom and up. These are not so pleasant to eat, as they are very stringy, woodsy, bitter and incredibly tough. They are better to leave off, how so can be read in the next section.
And then there is the mid-part or the spears of the asparagus. This is edible and quite delicious. However, it can be a little stringy too, and if you want to avoid that you can peel them, but I do not see the necessity of it.
If peeling, you also lose the fibrous outer layer which is good for your digestion.
How to cut asparagus
To cut asparagus is really simple, you don't even need a knife. As mentioned above, it is the tough, white part we want to avoid. To know where exactly the tender part (the spear) begins, hold the asparagus at the bottom-end with one hand and in the middle-ish end with your other hand.
Bend it and the asparagus will naturally snap off at the correct place. You can now use this as a guide for the rest of your asparagus and cut the others with a sharp knife, or you can continue to bend and snap. Considering this is such a small recipe, I just saved space in the dish washer by snapping, but either way is fine.
- Asparagus: this recipe wouldn't be much without it! Freshens up any meal.
- Olive oil: we need some oil to help crisp up the tops and cook the spears without burning them
- Lemon: brightens up any dish and is THE perfect flavor enhancer for spring dishes
- Mushroom salt as I mentioned above. Mushroom salt helps make any dish enhance its savory and umami flavor. I make it myself with just dried mushrooms and salt, but you can buy it, or you can use other salts (see Variations).
- Freshly cracked pepper: who doesn't love lemon and freshly cracked pepper together? Spicy and fresh!
- Garlic powder: for more umami flavor. You can use minced garlic too, but it can burn in the high heat, so I recommend opting for the powder.
- Onion powder: for even more umami flavor. Same goes for this!
- Chili flakes: complements the freshness from the asparagus and brightness from the lemon, in my opinion. It doesn't get spicy, just a little hint of it. But this can be omitted if you don't want that either.
You could use this recipe and not even use asparagus. The most similar vegetable to use would be green beans, and they will not need much different roasting time.
Same goes for brussels sprouts, if cut in half. Just keep an eye on them and they are done when they are fork tender (pricking them with a fork/knife and the fork/knife easily slides out without the vegetable being mushy).
You can also use whatever citrus you like, although the flavor will obviously be different. I think lemon is best for this particular recipe, but orange and clementine are also very good. Grapefruit is a little bitter, but it can be used in combination with a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey.
Mushroom salt can be omitted and use other coarse salt. However, considering the mushroom salt adds more savory flavor, I would recommend switching to another flavorful salt like herb salt.
It is also very common to sprinkle parmesan on asparagus when they are done roasting in the oven. Don't go overboard with this, and just do a light sprinkle. It is so, so good! A little sprinkle of herbs doesn't hurt anyone either, I really love mint or parsley for this dish. You could also add capers for that extra zing!
Or add a dollop of lemon herb or roasted garlic compound butter on top right before serving. So, so good.
I prefer to eat these straight away. Roasting vegetables make them taste so much better because roasting brings out the natural sugars of the vegggie. Because sugar turns to starch when they cool, they are best eaten right away.
However, they can be stored covered in the refrigerator for about 3 days. Then you can re-heat them in a skillet with some oil or butter, on medium heat. Just until warmed through, it would take just a couple of minutes. Or you could re-heat them in the oven on max 300F (150C) for about 5 minutes or until warmed through.
If you want a different use for leftover asparagus, I recommend adding them to these veggie egg cups for breakfast or brunch!
These garlic lemon roasted asparagus are really versatile and can be used to pretty much anything. So good as a side for meat like pork, chicken, beef, lamb and even fish. You can also chop them up and serve in this creamy spring pasta with peas!
I had these for lunch one day and it was incredible! Highly recommend trying this yourself: Poach or soft boil 2 eggs, add to a bowl along with the roasted lemon asparagus, some marinated feta cheese and olives. Sprinkle some freshly cracked pepper and chili flakes on top of the eggs!
How to make asparagus in the oven
Pre-heat oven to 425F° (220C°). Snap the ends off the asparagus, and then either keep whole or you can cut them in 2 or in 3. Place on a baking sheet. Drizzle the olive oil over and sprinkle the lemon zest, mushroom salt (or regular salt), pepper, garlic and onion powder on top and give it a good stir. Also sprinkle on the chili flakes if using.
Arrange the asparagus in one layer and bake for about 12-15 minutes (for medium thick asparagus, it depends on their thickness, around 10 for thin and up to 20 for thick). When they are tender when you prick them with a fork or knife, they are done.
Once done, drizzle lemon juice and Maldon salt if desired on top of the asparagus right before serving. Very versatile and works great with chicken, pork, lamb and fish! You can also chop the asparagus more finely and add to a salad. Or with poached eggs for breakfast/lunch. Enjoy!
Did you like this recipe? Here are more spring side dishes I think you would like:
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