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I put this asparagus dish out on Easter and it really drew some ooohhhs and aaahhhs from the crowd. In fact, I think it was the most impressive of all the dishes I served, and it was a pretty nice spread if I do say so myself. When you get a group of men crowding around the vegetable side dish you know that you’re on to something. Especially when there is a delicious spiral sliced ham and great big dish of scalloped potatoes right next to it.
I was inspired by a recipe over on Boulder Locavore. I incorporated my own method for roasting asparagus and since I have true love for balsamic vinegar, I reduced it down and drizzled the syrupy goodness over the top. Balsamic reduction may sound complex and difficult but it’s ridiculously simple. The process of reducing enhances all of the things we love about balsamic and it creates a rich, naturally sweet, thickened syrup that can be poured over all sorts of things including roasted meats, veggies, potatoes, ice cream. Maybe I’m going a little far with the ice cream…or maybe not.
Check out the step-by-step below to see how easy it is to make.
I’m a happy lady when asparagus is in season. I found it for .99 center per pound at my favorite little produce market near my house. See those woody ends? After we give the asparagus a good rinse in cool water we’re going to snap them off.
Grab a hold of a spear or two and start to bend them You’ll feel that they have a natural breaking point so just snap them off. You may have a super creative, delicious recipe for asparagus ends but otherwise, toss ’em.
Transfer the trimmed asparagus to a rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with a little olive oil. No need to drown them, just give them a little oil to make the roasting process happen. Push the spears around with your hands to coat them all. You can also season them with a little salt if you’d like. Place the baking sheet in a 400 degree oven and set the timer for about 8 minutes; less if you have very skinny asparagus.
While the asparagus is roasting we’ll start the balsamic reduction. Measure 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar into a small, heavy bottomed saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and bring it to a boil. Let the mixture simmer at a low boil for several minutes, stirring as needed to prevent it from burning. When the vinegar has reduced by about half and seems to be coating the sides of the pan, remove it from the heat. That’s it folks.
As it cools, it’s going to thicken and turn into something absolutely wonderful.
Next, grab a small, non-stick pan and place it over medium-low heat. Add the walnuts to the dry pan and cook and stir until they are lightly toasted. This will only take a couple of minutes. They can burn easily so don’t walk away.
When they have cooled a bit, transfer them to a cutting board and coarsely chop them.
Meanwhile, look at what has happened to our asparagus. I could (and do) eat it just like this. Remove it from the oven when it is just fork tender. Don’t let it go too long. Nobody likes limp asparagus.
Transfer the roasted asparagus to a serving dish and crumble the goat cheese over the top.
Then the chopped walnuts.
Drizzle the balsamic reduction over the top of the whole glorious thing.
Now, grab the dish and and a fork and run to a dark room and close the door.
Or, serve it to your loved ones. Your choice.
Elegant, impressive and absolutely guaranteed to please. Scroll down for the handy, dandy printable.
Now, on to a bit of blogging business. My friend, Kim, over at Cravings of a Lunatic had the wild idea to feature me in her Burning Down the Kitchen, blogger interview series. If you don’t know Kim you should. She’s the kind of lady I know I could get in some trouble with if we lived closer to each other.Go get the nitty gritty on me and while you are there, be sure to check out all her other wild ideas and downright delicious goodies. She went through a chocolate, caramel, pecan phase and now she’s moved on to Meyer lemons. Need I say more?
Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic, Goat Cheese, and Toasted Walnuts
- 2 bunches fresh asparagus, ends snapped off
- Olive oil, as needed
- Salt, to taste
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 walnuts, roughly chopped
- 3 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Arrange the asparagus on rimmed baking sheet, drizzle lightly with olive oil and season to taste with salt. Roast asparagus until just barely fork tender, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. The cooking time will vary based on the thickness of the asparagus so watch closely to avoid overcooking.
Meanwhile, add balsamic vinegar to a small heavy saucepan. Heat over medium heat until boiling. Keep at a low boil, while stirring, until it reduces by half. Set aside. It will thicken considerably as it cools.
Place walnuts in a dry non-stick pan and heat over medium low heat, till lightly toasted. Remove from heat and set aside. When they’ve cooled slightly, transfer them to a cutting board and coarsely chop.
Transfer roasted asparagus to a serving dish. Sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese and toasted walnuts. Drizzle balsamic reduction over the top and serve.
Adapted from Boulder Locavore