Baked Asparagus with Lemon and Parmesan

I encountered this dish at a family birthday gathering this weekend.  Often, when the family gets together, we all pitch in and collectively share the food preparation and cooking.  My sister in law, Shonnie, brought the asparagus.  It was arranged in a white corning ware baking dish covered with foil.  As I was putting my potato dish in the oven to cook, she asked me to warm the asparagus.  I didn’t actually see them until I took everything out of the oven and removed the foil.  There they were.  And they were just beautiful laying together all warmed up and covered by a lemon, garlic, parmesean blanket.  It was a vision of spring time.

I hated, just loathed eating asparagus as a child.  In my child mind, I thought asparagus was supposed to be army green, limp as a noodle and taste like hell…..like a skinny, slimy banana slug in March.  Disgusting!  The reason why I mention the white corning ware is because the green color that is achieved by perfectly cooked asparagus with yellow lemon zest against a bright white background looked sensational.  Now don’t despair, I have made asparagus the right way (believe it or not) over and over again since my childhood and have not ever associated it with slugs, but this dish looked great, tasted great and I went back for more.  There were plenty of oooh and ahhs, mostly from me, but this was a dish I could appreciate and I think you will too.  Be sure to use white serveware and if you don’t have any, don’t be a cheapskate!  Go get some!  C’mon, Easter is coming and you’ll use it again.

Shonnie told me that she would get me the recipe.  I couldn’t wait.  Here’s my version:

One bunch of thin fresh asparagus (don’t use the fatty’s)
1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon (juice and zest)
1 or 2 cloves crushed garlic
1 t. dijon mustard, such as Grey Poupon
scant salt
freshly ground pepper
Grated or shaved parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rinse aparagus in cold water and lay flat to dry (dry!).   In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper and blend together with fork.  Place dry asparagus in white baking dish and arrange with asparagus ends all on one side as shown in the picture.  Pour the dressing over the top and with your fingertips, slowly lift them gently to coat.  Bake at 425 degrees for 17 minutes and remove from oven.  Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top and serve.  Viola! 

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