Cook Asparagus In A Cast Iron Skillet For The Best Flavor And Texture Every Time

Asparagus is packed with flavor and rich in nutrients, making for a delicious addition to any meal no matter how it's prepared and cooked. It's even better when it's in season during spring, but we'll take a side of expertly-cooked asparagus anytime of the year. You might roast the spears in the oven or throw them on the grill outside, but a cast iron skillet is an even better way to bring out their flavor and enhance their texture with just a little effort.

If you don't already have a cast iron pan, get one because it'll be affordable and last a while. It's the type of skillet Tasting Table recipe developer Miriam Hahn uses for cast iron pan-fried asparagus. The first perk to using cast iron for asparagus is that the surface is quick to give the spears an impressive char. It's easy to char asparagus to save time, and a cast iron pan makes it even easier because it heats up evenly and quickly. It will only take a few minutes for the veggies to obtain a nice crunch and smoky flavor without getting mushy. You don't have to use much oil or butter in a cast iron pan either, making it a healthier option while allowing the earthy and sweet flavors of the asparagus to stand out on the plate. A well-seasoned cast iron pan also provides additional flavor to asparagus spears that you won't achieve when they're boiled or roasted.

Don't overcrowd the pan to achieve a perfect char on asparagus

Allow your cast iron pan to heat properly to obtain the best taste and texture on the asparagus. Heat the pan over high heat with 1 tablespoon of neutral oil for at least a few minutes to make sure the pan and oil are hot enough that the asparagus sizzles as soon as it hits the surface. Use a regular cast iron pan or a cast iron grill pan to get grill marks and a char on the veggies. Keep the spears to a single layer; don't overcrowd the pan or they won't cook evenly and all of your effort will go to waste.

While the asparagus spears are cooking, use a spatula to press the vegetables down against the pan to make sure they really get the benefits of the cast iron. You'll also want to occasionally flip them during the few minutes to ensure they cook evenly. Season with salt and pepper, or with garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest if you're following Hahn's recipe. Just don't let the asparagus stay in the pan too long after it's seasoned or the nice crunch will turn to mush. Try this technique with some of Tasting Table's other recipes like cast iron charred asparagus tacos, our spring harvest farro salad, or asparagus and morel risotto.