It’s probably heretical to say this, but I’m mystified by the appeal of the classic combination of steamed asparagus and hollandaise sauce. Wrong way to cook asparagus – unless you like it flabby – and wrong sauce for the job.
In my version, which works as a fast, easy starter or as a side dish, the asparagus is dusted with lemon zest, given a quick flash in a hot oven and served with a creamy sauce that’s inspired by Caesar salad dressing – complete with anchovies and Parmesan cheese.
I like asparagus about as thick as a pencil for this, as it cooks faster and more evenly. Thicker, woodier asparagus will need more time and you’ll have to watch it vigilantly as the tender tips will run the risk of charring too much.
Roasted asparagus and Caesar sauce
250g (½ pound) asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
for the dressing:
2 anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan
180ml (¾ cup) grapeseed oil (or other neutral-tasting oil)
Lay the asparagus spears on a baking sheet and drizzle over the olive oil. Season generously with salt and pepper. Grate over the zest of the lemon. Toss together with your hands until all the spears and nicely coated.
Roast for 6 minutes, until outside of each spear has crisped up and the interior is cooked through.
To make the dressing, place the egg, anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice and Parmesan in a small food processor and blend until combined.
If your processor allows it, pour the grapeseed oil in with the motor running until it emulsifies, becoming thick and creamy. If not, you can add the oil 2 tablespoons at a time, blending well between each addition.