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My garlic lemon asparagus recipe is a super easy side dish that my family absolutely loves! Fresh spring asparagus is sautéed with fresh lemon juice, zest, and garlic, then served with a sprinkle of delicious parmesan cheese. It's the best way to cook up that fresh spring produce.
Am I a weirdo for really loving asparagus? Spring is on its way, which means that asparagus is about to be in season!
While we are starting a garden this year in our rural-suburb home in Northern Virginia, asparagus is not something that'll be adorning it so I am excited to see it at our local farmers' markets soon. I'm so excited for our first spring back up 'north'.
This lemon garlic asparagus recipe is the perfect side dish to accompany basically any meal you'll make this spring, especially any grilled/smoked meats or holiday meals. To be honest, I love this recipe to add something easy, fresh, and green for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner when I find it at the grocery store.
It's really an easy dish made with simple ingredients and done in under ten minutes. You know you need a delicious side dish that is quick, easy, and full of flavor, and you know that I always got something for you in that aspect!
How to Choose Perfect Asparagus
If you're not sure what to look for at the grocery store when shopping for fresh asparagus, these are my top tips on picking top quality ones:
- The asparagus stalks should be bunched together and the cut ends standing in a case of ice water. This keeps the asparagus fresh for longer, so make sure the ends aren't dried up (meaning they were improperly stored and then put in the display for purchase).
- Make sure you have crisp asparagus! They should be bright green, firm, and snap from their woody ends easily. If the asparagus is becoming yellow-green and is wrinkly/wilted/shriveled, and floppy/bendy without snapping, they're past their prime.
- If they're dark green and mushy, they are no good! Most likely stored too cold in a freezer.
- The flowery tips should be closed pretty tightly to the stalk, and it's okay if they're purple/pink or green.
Always check the inside of the bunch of asparagus for fresh stalks throughout the entire bunch!
How to Sauté Asparagus with Lemon and Garlic
A simple lemon garlic parmesan asparagus recipe that will literally take less than ten minutes is exactly what you'll want for weeknight dinners.
When prepping the asparagus, you'll need to snap off the woody end of each one. You can bunch them together and can trim asparagus tips using a sharp chef's knife, but this could leave some of the tough end on some of them. They naturally want to snap at where the woody part ends, it has a natural breaking point, leaving the tender stalk to eat, and it's really fast to do.
Sauté the asparagus in a single layer in a large skillet in some butter and a little olive oil with a little kosher salt and pepper. After a minute, add the minced garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Don't let the garlic burn, it should only cook for another minute or two.
By this time the asparagus should be 'tender-crisp', where you can pierce it with a fork easily but the asparagus still has that fresh, vibrant color and crunch.
Taste the asparagus and season it with more salt and pepper, if needed. Serve with some freshly grated parmesan cheese! It is such a simple recipe, y'all.
Fresh Asparagus Spears. You'll want to use thinner asparagus stalks for this, but thicker ones work as well, they just need a bit more time to cook. Check them with a fork!
Garlic Cloves. You can mince them yourself, but I also love using a garlic press to make it really fast to just have that fresh garlic done. Garlic powder just doesn't give that garlicky punch we are looking for in this recipe, but if it's all you got, go for it! The addition of garlic really makes this dish.
Fresh Lemons. Always zest before juicing, just a quick tip. Make sure to wash the lemons well because we are using the juice and zest. Get a microplane, they're so useful: I use it to zest the lemons and grate the parmesan in this recipe. It gets fine gratings of lemon zest without worrying about getting chunks of the bitter pith underneath, unlike a vegetable peeler.
Parmesan Cheese. I say it every time: get the wedge of fresh parmesan cheese, not the dust in the green can! It's affordable, flavorful, and will change your life!
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper.
Asparagus season starts in late February and ends in June, peaking in early April!
Place the bunch in a small glass or mason jar filled with enough cool water to cover the about ¼ to ½ inch up the stem. Fresh asparagus stalks should always be kept in cold water in the fridge so they won't dry up.
First, don't clean them until you're ready to cook them! Now rinse the stalks under cool running water to get any sand/dirt hiding in the flowering end.
The asparagus will be done when you can pierce the spears with a fork, but they shouldn't be mushy, either. They cook very quickly, within 4-5 minutes, so this isn't the time to leave them alone.
Sauteed fresh asparagus is best eaten right after cooking, it doesn't hold really well! Luckily, this recipe is super fast and easy so it's not going to be too much trouble.
The longer asparagus sits around, the more mushy it'll become. I don't recommend saving it for later, but if you need to, it'll last overnight in an airtight container in the fridge.
What to Serve with an Asparagus Side Dish
Quick prep, quick cooking time, and full of incredible flavor, my easy sauteed asparagus recipe really is a great and elegant side dish for just about any meal!
When you're grilling on Memorial Day Weekend, asparagus is still in season! Serve it with your grilled mojo chicken and smoked brisket.
More Side Dishes
- Garlic Butter Mushrooms
- Crispy Garlic Smashed Potatoes
- Ultimate Bacon Mac and Cheese
- Lemon Parmesan Risotto with Peas
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- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 lb fresh asparagus, about 15-20 spears, woody ends removed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- ½ lemon zest and juice
- Freshly grated parmesan, to garnish
- In a medium sized skillet over medium heat, melt butter and oil together. Add asparagus spears to the pan, and saute until the asparagus for about 2 minutes, then add in garlic, lemon zest and juice, and season with about ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper.
- Keep cooking can be easily pierced by a fork but is still crisp and crunchy, about 1 or 2 more minutes. The asparagus should still be a lovely green color not an olive green or a 'canned' looking green, that means it was cooked too far. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.
- Serve hot, sprinkled with parmesan cheese.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 2 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 201Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 343mgCarbohydrates: 27gFiber: 5gSugar: 17gProtein: 7g
All nutrition facts are estimations. Please see a physician for any health-related inquiries.
Eden Westbrook is the recipe developer, writer, and photographer behind Sweet Tea and Thyme. A classically trained chef, Eden has inspired home cooks into the kitchen with cultural comfort foods, easy family-friendly eats and sweets, and glorious spreads for date night and entertaining since 2015.