Whether you’re looking for an Easter side dish to steal the show with devil-may-care panache or just trying to put a better-than-decent meal on the family table without your head exploding (who, me?), these marinated, roasted asparagus (or grilled asparagus, if that’s your thing today) with buttery bread crumbs may be just what you need.
Growing up, my mom used to make blanched asparagus with buttery bread crumbs once in a while. I’ve always been a fan of green vegetables, and I liked asparagus perfectly well. But those bread crumbs. I loved those bread crumbs so much that I basically lived from serving to serving just to get by. I think that’s why we started calling them “kid crack.” 30 years later, feeding this slightly amped up version of the original recipe to my family, the nickname still holds. Also, you wouldn’t be totally out of line calling it “adult crack.”
Hope you and your family like this easy side dish as much as we do. Or maybe the tiniest bit less, just for your own safety. That’s all for now. Talk to you soon.
Roasted Asparagus (or Grilled Asparagus) with Buttery Bread Crumbs
My mom used to make blanched asparagus with buttery bread crumbs, so I grew up eating that and craving it basically every moment that I wasn't eating it. Here I've added a tangy, flavorful marinade and swapped the blanching for roasting (or grilling). It's great all the ways, all the time.
- 1 1/2 pounds asparagus
For the marinade
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium garlic clove
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup plain or Italian-style dry bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center, or heat grill to medium-high.
Wash, dry and trim off the woody bottom portion of the asparagus.
In a large zip-top plastic bag or a long, shallow dish, combine the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest and juice, mustard, and a few good grinds pepper. Using a chef's knife, chop and then mash together the garlic and salt until it forms a paste. Stir into marinade. Add asparagus and toss to coat. Marinate at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or in the fridge for up to a day.
Remove asparagus from marinade and place in a single, evenly spaced layer on a baking sheet. (I sometimes use a wire rack on a baking sheet, but it's not strictly necessary.) You can save the marinade for about a week to use as salad dressing or to marinate something else. Bake for about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus, until charred in spots on the outside and just tender on the inside. Alternatively, grill for 2 to 3 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, until the crumbs take on an amber color and smell like you couldn't possibly resist eating them by the spoonful. Serve the asparagus with crumbs sprinkled overtop.
I published an earlier version of this recipe on Serious Eats back in 2010. You can find it, along with a nice little story if I do say so, right here.