Lately I have been very into taking a vegetable that I think of as a side dish veg, and turning it into an appetizer with a dipping sauce. I just did it like a madwoman with baby roasted potatoes, and now I’m doing it with roasted asparagus.
With the asparagus you do want to remember that leaving them a bit more on the crisp-tender side is highly advisable when you are looking to eat them by hand – everyone looks a bit silly trying to dunk an overcooked and droopy asparagus into a bowl of dip.
When my kids were little, Jack only liked the tips of asparagus, and Charlie only liked the stems. Imagine how neatly that worked out. Imagine how rarely things worked out that neatly with little kids at the table, especially having o do with vegetables.
And when asparagus is in season, I tend to cook it until….well, frankly until everyone in my family is sick of it. When Gary and I first met he told me he loved asparagus and I made it for every meal, until he gently told me that he loved it, but (to paraphrase) he didn’t want to actually become a stalk of asparagus. Humph.
But if you are not sick of asparagus, then keep these recipes in mind:
- Roasted Asparagus with Creamy Mustard-Oregano Sauce
- Sesame Asparagus and Shiitake Mushrooms
- Simple Roasted Asparagus with Shallots and Parmesan
And when you are thinking of spring, and main courses to serve this next to, think of:
- Salmon with Tarragon Vinaigrette
- Citrus Basil Shrimp Kebabs
- Grilled Lemony Chicken and Baby Artichokes
- Slow Cooked Herbed Leg of Lamb with Fresh Herb and Arugula Salad
Asparagus with Herb Dipping Sauce
For the Asparagus
- 2 pounds asparagus
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste
For the Herb Dipping Sauce
- 3 cups arugula
- 3 scallions trimmed and roughly chopped (white and green parts)
- ½ cup basil leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¾ cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce optional
- Preheat the oven to 450°F.
- Trim the asparagus bottoms about 2 inches and peel the outside of the bottoms of the stalks if they are thick asparagus. Place the asparagus in a baking pan. Don’t worry about finding a pan large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer – the stalks can overlap a bit. Drizzle the olive oil over them and toss gently to coat the asparagus evenly. Sprinkle on the salt, and toss again.
- Roast the asparagus for 7 to 10 minutes for thin stalks, 10 to 14 for thick ones. Remember that they will continue to cook a bit after you remove them from the oven, so take them out while they’re still a little firmer than you would like. Also, it’s very hard to dip a super tender asparagus. Transfer to a plate and let cool to room temperature.
- While the asparagus are roasting, make the dipping sauce. Place the arugula, scallions, basil, and salt and pepper in a food processor or blender and pulse to chop, then run the machine to chop finely.
- In a medium bowl combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce, if using. Turn the herb mixture into the bowl and stir well to combine. Transfer to a small serving bowl and serve with the asparagus for dipping.
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