Roast Truffled Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

Asparagus is just starting to come into season in March. Roasting it brings out its grassy, asparagussy essence. Steaming and — horrors of horrors! — boiling just don't seem right after tasting roasted asparagus.

Serve this with a poached egg or two for brunch, along with a truffled Hollandaise (basic Hollandaise with a few drops of truffle oil added). Or, serve the asparagus tossed with pasta; in fact, I once ate the truffled asparagus with both eggs and spaghetti. It was in Italy, in the middle of the most beautiful nowhere you can imagine, and it was asparagus season. Of course, the asparagus is delicious with roasted fish or chicken, too.

Though the recipe calls for white truffle oil (since it goes well with the garlic whereas black truffles have more of an affinity with earthy mushrooms), if you have only black truffle oil and no white, use the black. If you have truffle paste or condimento instead, use those. Fresh truffles? You lucky thing, don't even ask, just shave them off and billow them onto the dish right before eating. The asparagus is as good at room temperature as it is hot, by the way. And so simple to prepare it doesn't even bear thinking about.

Serves 4-6, as a starter or side dish

1 large bunch or 2 small to medium bunches asparagus, both ends snapped off
2 to 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 to 5 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and pepper as desired
4 to 5 tablespoons freshly grated Fiscalini Parmesan or similar grating cheese
Several generous shakes of white truffle oil

Turn the oven on to 375-400°F(190-205°C), depending on how hot the oven gets. A really hot oven will roast the asparagus in a matter of a few minutes, a slower oven will take longer; it doesn't reallly matter as long as you don't burn them or overcook them. Just check every so often and you'll be fine.

Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet, the kind with a small border, about 1/2 inch deep. Toss the asparagus with olive oil, then the garlic, then the salt and pepper.

Place in the oven, and leave for about 7 minutes then remove, toss around a bit and check to see their progress. The asparagus should still be crisp but ever so gently tender. Return to the oven for a few minutes longer, or until the asparagus is just crisp-tender.

Toss with the Parmesan cheese, letting it melt, then shake on a few generous drops of the truffle oil. Serve right away.

Recipe from Marlena Spieler


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