Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Everywhere I look there is another recipe for asparagus baked in parchment paper. You know how you can never have heard of something and then suddenly it is everywhere as if everybody (except moi) knew about it all along? So it is with the asparagus and parchment thing (a technique very old hat when it comes to baked fish.)
Why not asparagus?  I happened to glance at some of the recipes I saw published (was it Mark Bittman in the NY Times for one?) and decided to improvise my own version guided by the spirit of the idea. One of the recipes I noticed said STAPLE the parchement closed, which I jumped on as a piece of genius advice.

Stapler in hand, I piled my cleaned asparagus onto a sheet of parchment paper, chopped up a lemon, drizzled everthing with olive oil, s & p and added some sliced red pepper for a little color. Baked at 400 for 15 minutes.
WONDERFUL!- so easy so good! The asparagus get the full flavor of roasting but retain all their moisture. I am ALL ABOUT PARCHMENT right now. Don't you think it would work just as well with green beans, or broccoli or anything? gonna try.
Steamy and hot from the oven the aspargus, just released from the parchment, are still plump, firm and green.

Amanda- I suspect that asparagus are as difficult to pair with wine as mint. Is this so?

Asparagus are notoriously difficult to pair with wine.  A stalk of asparagus is like the red-headed step-child of food and wine pairing. Though loved by many a foodie, it is the pariah to many serious wine lovers painstakingly concocting the ultimate food and wine pairing. However, this does not need to be the case. I say RELAX. The mention of asparagus when planning a wine dinner seems to turn everything topsy-turvy for some reason, and evokes an element of fear in the food/wine coordinator. 

There are plenty of wines to choose from. True - there are certain chemicals/amino acids in asparagus that will bring out the worst in your wine - literally change it. This is unavoidable and is simply a matter of chemistry. And this of course, can be terribly disappointing. So, to begin with, there are two general rules when it comes to what not to drink. Stay away from oaky wines, i.e Chardonnay, and tannic wines, i.e Cabernet, Merlot, etc. I would say stay away from red in general. If you must have red for some reason, stick with something like a Pinot Noir, preferably Burgundian.

For whites there is a plethora to choose from. My first choice is Gruner Veltliner. Asparagus screams for something crisp, light with great acidity. And absolutely yearns for a wine with an earthy, minerally, grassy quality. Avoid "fruity" wines. Go for clean and vibrant and racy. Gruner is that grape (and a favorite of mine, I might add). It is primarily grown in Austria, and is intended to be enjoyed in the near term. Drink it young. I love the Grooner Gruner Veltliner, a great "party" wine, priced very well at $9.99.
Sauvignon Blanc is another great choice. Look for one from a cooler climate, like a Sancerre or Pouilly Fume from the Loire Valley in France. Talk about minerality! These wines will perfectly complement your asparagus! Other choices include a crisp Pinot Grigio, a dry, racy Riesling from Germany (be sure it's DRY), or even Champagne.

Don't be intimidated by the reputation Asparagus has regarding wine. There are plenty of options out there! But this is definitely a food pairing that requires some thought, or you risk sipping a glass of wine that will not taste very good!


  1. Don't worry, in this case, I think *I'm* the last to know--I'm not sure I've ever even cooked fish in parchment, nevermind asparagus! Will have to try it, yours look delicious.

    (Also, mmm, Riesling, thanks for reminding me that I should pick up a bottle!)

  2. Love, love, love this method! Tried it last night and it is just so easy, healthy, and tasty! I'm on a big broccoli rabe kick, so this is what I used. I added some julienned red pepper and chopped lemon like Deb, and also added some sliced garlic. It's such a nice way of cooking - and best of all there's no mess! My only caveat - though it was quite tasty, the broccoli rabe did come out quite bitter this way, and the lemon served to enhance this flavor. It did taste quite "astringent". Next time, I will go the asparagus route! But I will definitely use the parchment route again and again!

  3. Hi, Debbie: This looks delicious, but I have a silly question: Where do I get parchment paper? It is being mentioned everywhere, by the way. Recently, a good baker told me to use parchment instead of wax paper to line baking pans. I didn't run out and buy it since I don't bake often: actually, I'm still trying to amortize the cost of the mixer I got a few years ago. But asparagus is something different.

  4. Parchment paper can be found at most of the FANCY food stores: Williams Sonoma, Whole Foods, Fairway, Citarella, Zabars. You get the idea. Even a Food Emporium might have it. It used to be impossible to find but it is now getting easier.


Thank you for your comment. Spammers have forced me to now review every comment before publishing. So please bear with me as I read through your comment. Thank you for visiting the blog!