Asparagus can hold its own when paired with bold flavors just like the capers, anchovy, and garlic in this easy, punchy side dish. Salty capers and umami packed anchovies are a match made in heaven – just ask puttanesca sauce. Add in some savory garlic (which turns golden brown when roasted at high heat, mellowing the sharp bite) as well as bright lemon juice for some acid and you got flavor for days. This asparagus is so mouthwateringly tasty I have literally eaten a whole pan-full straight from the oven and I am not even mad about it!
While capers have their fair share of haters, a lot of people turn their noses up at the thought of anchovies. Here both are chopped finely so they flavors are distributed. Only one anchovy is used per a pound of asparagus, so it brings those lovely savory and salty notes but there is not enough chovy’ to give this side a fishy taste. Capers have a briny flavor and a tablespoon is used per pound of asparagus. If you have a caper-hater on your hands feel free to cut the amount by half or leave it out, adding extra salt and lemon juice in it’s place, and you still have a delicious side.
The method could not be more straightforward. The woody ends of the asparagus are chopped off and it is coated in some oil and just a bit of salt. Then garlic, capers, and anchovy and chopped very finely and mixed together. The asparagus spears are pushed together and the mixture is sprinkled over it as evenly as is feasible. Pushing the asparagus together first helps more of the flavor love land on the asparagus versus the empty space between spears. Then you gently spread em’ out again, trying to keep the mix on-top, and place back in a 450 degree F oven for another 8-10 minutes or until the asparagus is done to your liking. Fresh lemon juice is then squeezed over the asparagus and it is ready! I like serving with additional lemon wedges and some crushed red pepper flakes on the side. Altogether this asparagus takes 15 minutes or less – truly worth more in flavor than it takes in effort!
Roasted Asparagus with Capers and Anchovy
Servings: 3-4 as a side
Time: 15 minutes
- 1 pound of fresh asparagus
- 1 tbsp. capers
- 1 anchovy filet (about 1.5 tsp packed when finely chopped)
- 1 clove of garlic
- juice of half a lemon (plus more for serving, optional)
- crushed red pepper flakes for serving, optional
- cooking oil
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- Chop the woody ends off of the asparagus and place them on a sheet pan. Toss in some oil (about 2 tsp.) and sprinkle on some salt. Keep in mind the capers and anchovy are salty, so you only need a pinch.
- Finely chop the anchovy, capers and garlic. Chop until it is almost paste-like but still has some texture to it. This will help it adhere better to the spears. Mix the finely chopped garlic, capers, and anchovy together.
- Push the spears together. Sprinkle the garlic, caper, and anchovy mix evenly over the asparagus. Gently spread the spears back out, trying to keep as much of the garlic, caper, and anchovy mix on-top of the spears as you can (see note).
- Place asparagus into the hot oven for 8-10 minutes or until cooked to desired tenderness. The garlic, caper, and anchovy mix should be golden and flavorful upon pulling it from the oven.
- Immediately squeeze fresh lemon juice over the asparagus and serve (optionally, serve with additional lemon wedges and crushed red pepper flakes).
- I prefer my asparagus to be tender-crisp, making 8-minutes a perfect time for medium-thick spears. If you have really thin asparagus, yours might be done in even less time, whereas very thick ones might take up to 12 minutes.
- The topping will inevitably fall between spears because, let’s face it, it is not sticky. No worries though! The bits that fall on the pan get golden and crispy and delicious. In order to snag every last bit, I like to cook my asparagus on parchment paper, which is naturally non-stick. Then when serving, just pour all the bits that fell between the cracks over the asparagus.