In the dark days of last winter, my friend gifted me with a sexy olive oil and a small bottle of truffle oil. And I managed in that same evening to mention that I haven’t been putting oil in my homemade salad dressings. *facepalm*
But, really, why is there oil in all of the salad dressing recipes? It doesn’t seem to add much to the flavor. A bit of mustard goes much farther for making the dressing coat the lettuce than oil (especially if your leaves are less than perfectly dry). And it doesn’t add much in the way of umami unless you add more than a couple teaspoons.
So what do I use fancipants oil for? Mostly finishing tarkas, sometimes dipping bread, and also historical cooking for no explainable reason.
In general, it’s when the flavor of the oil will matter.
So there I was with a beautiful bunch of local (to Baltimore) asparagus. And I remembered that one time I made roasted asparagus for a date and it was the best thing ever.
Now, I have a terrible memory. Not only do I forget most things, but also I occasionally remember things that never happened. To this day, I am pretty sure I remember a scene from Blade Runner, which I have been unable to find in any of the versions of the film.
So I have a very distinct memory of opening up The Joy of Cooking and reading up on asparagus. I remember it saying that few people appreciated that the very best preparation for asparagus was roasting it at high heat.
Only, I went to my Joy of Cooking to double check the cooking time and temperature… and there is no mention at all of roasting asparagus. So I checked my other cookbooks to see whether I was mistaken as to the title… nope. I can’t find anyone advocating it, but I swear it was delicious.
So I went ahead and made up the time and temperature.
Rinse asparagus and pat dry. Snap off the tough bottoms of the stems (as you do) (Or, you know, cut them).
Okay, so given a choice, I always go for the thinnest asparagus available. Therefore, I didn’t bother with blanching them first. If you are going for thicker stems, there be blanching here. (tip: if you don’t trim the ends off first, you can easily blanch asparagus by holding the woody part and then swirling the tip through the boiling water)
Pop into a 450F oven.
Five minutes later, turn the spears and drizzle with truffle oil.
After another three to five minutes (if you have skinny spears), it should be done. Grab one and munch on it to be sure. Mmmmm – maybe another.
Finish with a sprinkling of salt.