Slow-Roasted Asparagus ♥

Slow cooking turns asparagus into something entirely new
Today's unusual asparagus recipe: Spears of asparagus quick-cooked, topped with grated Parmesan and dotted butter, then roasted. Low carb. Delicate, dark and dreamy.

~recipe & photo updated & republished 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

Original Post 2008: These days, when people talk about slow food, it's generally code for Slow Food, the Italian organization that's become an international movement, one that fights the disappearance of local food traditions, people’s dwindling interest in the food we eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how our food choices affect the rest of the world.

But not me, when I write about slow food, I mean slow food quite literally, that is, food cooked unusually slowly, sloooooow food.

This obsession with all-things-slow, it started with my first forays into slow-roasted tomatoes and really picked up steam with the life-changing slow-baked potatoes. But I would never-ever-ever have guessed that asparagus – so lovely when steamed just-til-done, you know, that tender-crisp point of perfection – would turn into some entirely different vegetable when cooked for such a long time.

The inspiration came from pastry chef and cookbook author Gina DePalma. In a recent Spapshot from Italy at Serious Eats, she wrote that the Italians have an undeserved reputation for 'hammering their vegetables', cooking them til kingdom come. (Ha. I hadn't thought about the underlying meaning of that phrase! And speaking of phrases, the comments on Serious Eats are interesting, they really 'hammer' Gina for bringing an abomination to asparagus. Clearly, others could benefit from real experience with slow food!)

These are delicious! They won't replace all my other favorite asparagus recipes and they're best for fat spears of asparagus but add this recipe to an already long list of all the great ways to enjoy asparagus. Thank you, Gina, for the inspiration!

2012 Update: I take it back. These almost-creamy asparagus definitely earn a spot in my list of Six Years of Favorite Asparagus Recipes. When we took them to friends recently, there was a small fuss over who got only three spears, not four! Yes, they're that good.

"I skipped the blanching and cooked the asparagus at that temp for about 40 minutes. It was brown and crispy and so, so good." ~ Jennifer
"Boy! Was. That. Good!!!! I loved the crunchy tops." ~ Sally


Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Serves 4

Water to cover, well-salted
1 pound thick spears of asparagus

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 ounce Parmesan, grated
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

Bring the water to a boil. Preheat oven to 400F.

Meanwhile, wash asparagus well. (Optional: With a vegetable peeler, peel off the skin right up to the tips. Gina doesn't do this but I've learned to appreciate this step.) Snap off the woody end, discard (though you'll find a very tasty edible bite at the first part of the discarded end, the 'cooks treat'). Cook for 3 - 4 minutes, just until beginning to soften but still bright green. Remove from water and drain.

Spread a tablespoon of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. (Gina puts foil down for easy clean-up.) Roll the spears in the oil until they're completely covered. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on the baking sheet, butted up tight against each other, the tips pointed one direction. Sprinkle spears with Parmesan, then dot with butter.

Roast for about 30 minutes, what Gina calls "roasting the heck out of them", until the asparagus is slightly browned and bubbling. Use a spatula to transfer to a serving dish.

This would be a great way to serve fresh hot asparagus to guests – so long as there's room in the oven, plating is the only last-minute attention that's required.
If you happen to have individual oven-safe serving dishes, these would make for great presentation. The spears look soo good straight out of the oven, especially how they stick together: part of the charm is how the spears become one. Hmm. How about this? Another way to get the same affect for individual servings would be to use one roasting pan but to separate the asparagus into four separate sections, then lift onto individual plates. Yes, much easier!
2012: I happened to have banana leaves hanging around (doesn't everyone? :-) we'd made tamales the night before) and used them to wrap the spears into individual servings. Very cool looking, I'd definitely do that again.
2012: These are good enough, I recommend making extra. People will want seconds.

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Still Hungry?

~ Six Years of Favorite Asparagus Recipes ~

~ Gorgeous Raw Asparagus Salad ~
~ Asparagus Tapenade ~
~ Roasted Aspargus with Feta ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture

~ Roasted Salmon & Asparagus ~
~ Easy-to-Elegant Asparagus Soup ~
~ Asparagus Custard Tart ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade, my food column

A Veggie Venture is home of 'veggie evangelist' Alanna Kellogg and the
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2012

Alanna Kellogg
Alanna Kellogg

A Veggie Venture is home of "veggie evangelist" Alanna Kellogg and the famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.


  1. Holy cow! I wonder if Gina realized she get that kind of reaction?! This sounds fabulous Alanna. I think I'll try it this year when the asparagus comes up. Thanks a lot!

  2. I adore roasted asparagus!

    Since I have to be dairy-free, I add a dash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil to mine instead of the butter and cheese.

  3. Another unexpected marvel of slow cooking! I usually like my asparagus just a few seconds shy of completely raw, but this looks too good not to try.

  4. Mmmmm, I love how you say the spears of asparagus become one--sounds like the ultimate in comfort food!

  5. I'm with you Alanna, slow food means for me, the food cooked the way you described it.

  6. Hey Alanna,
    I just wanted you to know that I made this tonight -- only, I was cooking a ham roast at 300 degrees, so I skipped the blanching and cooked the asparagus at that temp for about 40 minutes. It was brown and crispy and so, so good. I will definitely do it again this way, especially for guests. Thanks for the idea!

  7. Oh, yum! Have you tried any other type of cheese(s)? I love the idea of splitting into batches to individually plate. How gorgeous.

  8. Sally ~ Soon, soon, soon.

    Karina ~ A great adaptation, for sure. I learned with my asparagus soup recipe how beautiful balsamic vinegar is with asparagus.

    Lydia ~ You and lots of people. This is a keeper.

    Lisa ~ They do sort of glue together.

    Cynthia ~ Aii, we're sympatico again then.

    Jennifer ~ Hello friend! (Jennifer is the one who first called me the veggie evangelist, one of my very favorite bloggers.) I can completely imagine this asparagus served with ham, good choice. That said - may I? - I think what you ended up with is a great batch of roasted asparagus topped with Parmesan and butter. What's not to like about that?!! But I do think that cooking the asparagus twice is what makes this particular recipe unusual, create something different entirely. Hmm. Maybe this demands a side-by-side taste test!

    Priyanka ~ I've just used the Parmesan but do think that a hard cheese is what's called for, otherwise it end up in a puddle of oil and solids versus holding together. That said, how about another side-by-side taste test?!

  9. AnonymousMay 02, 2008

    i *love* asparagus, and this is an elegant preparation that seems less time- and labor-intensive than making hollandaise.

    plus, it has cheese. so you know it can't be bad.

  10. AnonymousJune 05, 2008

    I made the roasted asparagus the other night. Boy! Was. That. Good!!!! I loved the crunchy tops. Thanks SO MUCH for the idea.

  11. THIS IS SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO AMAZING!!!!!!!!! I love aspargus and thiis recpie is sooo good! great job and thank husband ate it UPPPP!!!

  12. I missed this post back in 08. Good thing you reposted. Yet another way to enjoy asparagus.

  13. Charlie RMay 07, 2012

    Sooo good!


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Thank you for taking a moment to write! I read each and every comment, for each and every recipe, whether a current recipe or a long-ago favorite. If you have a specific question, it's nearly always answered quick-quick. ~ Alanna