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.
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.