Roasted asparagus becomes extra special when brushed with miso butter and topped with feta cheese and a caper gremolata. So easy, elegant, and delicious — a beautiful preparation for spring’s most famous vegetable.
Spring is definitely taking its time getting here, and my patience for fresh vegetables plucked from my own garden is done. Over. In the rear view mirror. I’m ready for green, and lots of it!
With my vegetable gardens in total limbo, thanks to record-setting spring snowfall, I’m not above trolling the grocery stores, looking for spring’s treasures, like radishes and fresh spinach and strawberries. And, of course, asparagus. Which I actually don’t grow and have to purchase anyway, no matter the weather, lol.
The thing I love most about in-season, spring asparagus are those slender spears. So tender, they’re as tasty raw in salads as they are prepared for a dinner side dish.
Roasting asparagus in the oven is, by far, my favorite way to enjoy asparagus. Roasted asparagus gets a kiss of caramelization while remaining al dente and green — no mushy, olive-drab asparagus here!
My winter seasoning crush — miso — is hanging on into spring. I add miso to everything, from soups (of course!) to salad dressings and sauces. So, making a quick, super-flavorful miso butter marinade was a short leap of inspiration. The miso butter adds a gentle, salty-savory touch to the asparagus.
For an elegant touch, I whisked up a quick caper gremolata, with garlic, lemon zest, and parsley. (Also pictured here, fresh radish sprouts that I’ve kept growing on my kitchen windowsill, because that’s what gardeners do in depths of winter, lol.)
Top everything with a layer of crumbly, salty feta cheese, and you have a brunch-worthy dish or a side to dinner that even green-vegetable skeptics can’t help but dig into!
And now, not related to this recipe, but still something I must call out to all food lovers: if you haven’t watched “The Chef’s Table” series on Netflix, get thee into binge-watching position, stat. I held off on past seasons, because I’m a home cook — and proud to be “just” a home cook — and chefy things and high-end restaurants and radish foam and food-as-spectacle are just not my jam.
But, I stumbled onto the latest season after abandoning the new Netflix “Lost in Space” series (truly and remarkably horrible, lol). “The Chef’s Table” popped up as a featured show, and I hit the button.
Splendidly done. Documentary at its best. Whatever affirmative soundbite you want to apply here, it fits. I realized how infatuated I was when I hit the Christina Tosi episode late one Friday night, and couldn’t look away. I’m not a fan of Christina Tosi or her food. Cereal milk — while uniquely nostalgic, to be sure — is a ridiculous notion around which to build a restaurant: sugar-bomb milk derived from the standard bearer of our shameful American diet, over-sweetened breakfast cereal. But, I trusted the earlier episodes, and went with it.
The very format of the documentary is noteworthy: there’s no hard-pressing journalist at the helm, warping the story into talking points. The episode’s subject does their own voice-overs and is in frame 95% of the time, peeling back the story’s layers bit by bit, and supported by a small cast of friends (sometimes professional, sometimes personal), who provide outside anecdotal perspective. The series is edited (of course), but the stories have a natural flow that cannot come about by two people sitting face-to-face under set lights, with cuts to street scenes and staged kitchen footage.
So, the documentarian, rather than being the unseen voice of an interviewer-slash-psychoanalyst is, instead, videographer extraordinaire, telling a second, parallel story through visuals. When one of the celebrated chefs relocates suddenly and inexplicably from NYC to Bali, you can see the dramatic life-shift through juxtapositions of New York and Indonesian vignettes. You could mute the volume and understand the chaos and depression of the before and the peace and spark of life after nonetheless.
Colors are bright and saturated. Frames are sharply in focus, crisp, made for high-definition devices. It’s as sumptuous as the food.
The Christina Tosi episode left me with an appreciation of her journey and life’s work that I never expected. Which is, to me, the epitome of storytelling: not agreement or persuasion, but understanding, enlightenment, and empathy. I still have no particular desire to ever visit Milk Bar, but I’m glad to know her story and how and why her junk-food aesthetic came to be. I might not appreciate cereal milk, but I appreciate and understand how passion and obsession drives one forward.
There’s no need to watch the series chronologically — scroll through the episodes, pick your favorite chef, and see if you don’t get hooked, too.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 teaspoons sweet/white miso
- 1 bunch asparagus about 1 pound
- 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
- zest from one lemon, grated
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/4 cup feta, crumbled
Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
Heat the butter in a small pot over medium low until melted. Add the miso paste and stir until blended into the butter. Reduce heat to low (or warm).
Rinse the asparagus and pat dry. Arrange on the baking sheet and brush with the miso butter, turning the spears to coat all sides.
Roast for 18 to 20 minutes, turning once, until lightly browned on the edges and tender, but not mushy.
While the asparagus roasts, combine the capers, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and parsley, and oil in a bowl.
Transfer the roasted asparagus to a serving platter, and spoon the caper mixture over the spears. Top with a generous coating of feta cheese. Serve immediately.
Recipe inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi