A lovely way to celebrate the imminent arrival of spring is to serve fresh asparagus, which is at its best
between March and May. The best way to trim spears of asparagus is to bend the thick end of each spear until it breaks. You can cut a thin slice from the base of each spear for a more finished presentation.
Pan-Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Lemon Zest
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 lb. (500 g) asparagus, tough ends trimmed
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 garlic cloves
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
1/2 cup (2 oz./60 g) panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Preheat a broiler or preheat an oven to 500°F (260°C).
In a large ovenproof fry pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer in the pan and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté the asparagus, turning it frequently, until the asparagus is crisp-tender, 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the asparagus.
While the asparagus is sautéing, in a mini food processor, combine the garlic, lemon zest, panko and the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil. Pulse until the garlic is finely chopped and the ingredients are thoroughly combined.
When the asparagus is crisp-tender, sprinkle the panko mixture over the asparagus. Transfer the pan to the oven and broil or roast until the topping is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Transfer the asparagus to a serving dish, if desired, or serve directly from the pan. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen