Roasted Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan

Roasting asparagus in the oven and finishing with olive oil and shaved parmesan is a perfect spring side dish. 


Many years ago when I was working at a television station in Toronto I ate the same thing in the cafeteria for lunch every single day.  This was not unlike what I did in highschool when I ate french fries and gravy every single day for lunch, which other than throwing up a well formed ball of grease at the end of 4 years, had no ill effects on me.

By the time I hit my working years I was a little more grown up in my tastes.  What I ate every day for lunch was Veeshna’s (she was the cook in the cafeteria) Asparagus Soup.  I loved it so much I found just having one meal a day of it wasn’t enough so I asked her for the recipe so I could make it for myself for dinner.  Which I did.  For weeks on end.  Until one day I looked at the bowl of Asparagus Soup and thought I was going to throw up much more than a ball of grease.

It was 4 years until I could eat anything asparagus again.  I’ve learned to control myself a little more.  I still only make asparagus soup occasionally but once asparagus season rolls around I’m eating roasted asparagus at least a couple of times a week.



I told you earlier this week about how there are female and male asparagus spears.  The thick ones are male and the thinner ones are female.  Unless the thin ones are male and the thick ones are female.  There’s some dispute about that.  It doesn’t matter though. All you need to know is whether you like thick or thin spears.  People used to say the thicker spears were tough, but that’s not the case.  I happen to like the thick ones.

If your spears are tough it’s more likely that you haven’t cut enough of the stem off of the bottom.

To prepare asparagus for roasting (in a 400 degree oven) just bend the asparagus spears with your fingers near the bottom.




They’ll naturally break at the point where the tender meets the tough.  Tender meets the tough.  I think Heart recorded that in the late 70’s.




If you’re weird about all your asparagus spears being the exact same length then don’t bother snapping them,  just cut 2 or 3 inches off the bottoms.  Ya weirdo.



Drizzle your asparagus with some olive oil and toss them around to get all the spears coated.  Do NOT salt and pepper prior to cooking.  When you’re roasting vegetables you’re better to salt and pepper at the end because salt will draw moisture out of the vegetable as you’re roasting and you don’t want the water out, you want it in.




Roast the asparagus for AROUND 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears.  For thinner spears check them at 5 minutes, for thicker spears check them at 10 minutes.  It also depends on how you like your asparagus cooked.  Technically you’re supposed to allow them to have a bit of bite to them.  Some crunch.  But some people don’t like that.  Some people like their vegetables to be complete mush, which is fine.  Is it how a chef thinks you should eat asparagus?  Nope.  But since it’s you eating the asparagus you’re in control and you can cook them however you like them.

I for instance like my scrambled eggs decidedly overcooked.  That’s how I like them. I don’t care that it’s “wrong”.   Liking canned peas is “wrong” too, but I like those as well.




As soon as you take the asparagus out of the oven sprinkle it generously with salt and pepper and then shave parmesan cheese over it.  Do it right away so the heat from the asparagus will help melt the cheese a bit.  You can also stick the asparagus all cheesed up under the oven broiler to get it a bit crusty and bubbly.  In fact.  Do that.  Always do that.  Always broil it for a minute afterwards. That is now an order.

The roasting changes the flavour of asparagus, just like it changes the flavour of any vegetable. Roasting  caramelizes the sugars in the vegetable and brings out a slight sweetness in everything along with giving them a roasty, charred taste.




Roasted Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan

The thickness of your spears will dictate how long to cook the little spring spears of joy.
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Course: Vegetable Side Dish
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Author: The Art of Doing Stuff


  • Asparagus
  • Olive OIl
  • Salt large sea salt flakes if you have them
  • Pepper
  • Parmesan Cheese shaved


  • Preheat oven to 400 F
  • Wash asparagus and snap off the tough bottoms.
  • Toss in olive oil and lay out on baking sheet.
  • Roast for 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears and how well cooked you like your asparagus.
  • Remove from oven and immediately sprinkle generously with salt, pepper and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • Throw them under the broiler for a few minutes if desired. And trust me. You desire.


More STUFF tip:

If you have leftover roasted asparagus heating it up tends to overcook it no matter how hard you try not to. So throw it in a pot with just enough  chicken stock to cover it, simmer it, throw it in a blender, and you have asparagus soup.  Serve with shaved parmesan and a few large croutons on top.

Just don’t eat the soup every day for lunch.  And dinner.  Ditto for the fries and gravy.




  1. Aspasia says:

    The recipe looks great–thanks for sharing. I also like my scrambled eggs “over” cooked (or cooked just right, as far as I’m concerned). There’s a weird amount of judgment out there about how people eat. Just enjoy your food and don’t stress (Karen says so) :)

  2. Dan says:

    Two posts on asparagus, and not a single mention of the single greatest feature of this vegetable? Canned peas, but no asparagus pee? It even has literary cred, forming the basis of a great love story in Tom Robbins’ Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas.

    I can’t think of a vegetable which inspires more discussion. Other than Brussels sprouts, which is a disappointingly binary like-em-or-not conversation. Finally, for the record, it’s apparently not bad table manners to eat asparagus with your fingers in polite company. Which I most definitely am not.

  3. Vanessa says:

    I’m all over roasted vegetables! First time I roasted brussel sprouts and radishes (not together, since different harvest seasons) I realized, damn! all veggies are better this way! It’s my go-to for new vegetables from the CSA that I previously hated.

  4. jainegayer says:

    My son always makes this for me when he visits and it is beyond delicious!

  5. Sandra says:

    I had a baloney sandwich (no butter, mustard on both sides) every day for lunch when I was a kid. Still love them, but don’t have them often anymore.

  6. Kim says:

    I know I should be commenting on the amazing asparagus recipes you shared, or your beautiful bracelet, or even your fabulous photos but I’m stuck on the high school cafeteria french fries. And gravy. Oh that gravy! I didn’t eat it every day – but I wanted to. So bad, yet so good! Mmmmm. Fond memories.

  7. Nicole says:

    I just love the fact that you don’t care what is labelled right and wrong on how to cook your food. If you like it-then it’s right! I love canned peas, over cooked scrambled eggs and cold oranges!! I know, I said it, cold oranges. I feel so much better admitting that out loud. My dad was a produce supervisor for years for Sobeys. He said that since oranges are a warm climate fruit their natural juices are better at room temperature. I don’t care, a cold sweet orange is heavenly!! Now to go pick my asparagus for I now know what’s for dinner.

  8. Kim says:

    You are correct that liking canned peas is wrong Karin. Over cooked scrambled eggs though….Awesome! Great pics and thanks for the recipes. I will have to purchase my asparagus from the store but I will once the price is right. Looking forward to the roasted ones. Have a wonderful weekend!

  9. Jody says:

    That’s funny. We had exactly that last for dinner. So good.

  10. Ann says:

    I did go out and check my asparagus yesterday after reading your last post. Lo and behold, it does seem true. The fat spear plants all had little male flowers and the skinny spear plants all had the berries. Some do say that you should dig up all the skinny spear plants and replace with the male plants until eventually all your plants are male. Too much bother. After all, I spent good money to buy all male plants. So those girlies worked hard to get included and make it in my garden. Without both boys and girls I would not have all those awesome volunteers that seem to be able to grow better than the originals.

    I have never made asparagus soup and hopefully by my season next year I will remember to give it a try

  11. Sandra Lea says:

    Who cares about the asparagus, I too want to know where you got that bracelet.

  12. Amber says:

    I’m referring to the pic that shows your full hand…the one with the stunning bracelet.
    Of course, they’re all gorgeous photos but the one Im referring to reminds me of a beautiful Renaissance Painting….

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Amber. I used the easiest trick in the book. I took the photos outside in the shade. :) ~ karen!

  13. Amber says:

    What did you do, technically speaking, to get such a beautiful and evenly lit portrait of your hands and asparagus? Diffusers? Light box? Photoshop? Please tell.
    Thank you! Thank you!

  14. Kathleen says:

    *wipes the drool off the corner of her mouth*
    This, Karen, is cruel & unusual punishment! Love asparagus in any way or form. Can’t wait for our season to roll around.

    Have an awesome weekend.

    PS I have some bone-handled knives to go with those gorgeous forks! :)

    • Karen says:

      Gasp! It seems all my Art of Doing Stuff readers have this cutlery, lol. A reader is where I bought my entire set from! ~ karen

  15. Judy D. says:

    Hi Karen…. I roast asparagus exactly like you do. It’s one of my favorite vegetables. Two quick questions… (1) Is making the soup with asparagus and chicken stock Veeshna’s recipe? (2) What is the brand and color of your nail polish? I love it.

    Judy D.

    • Karen says:

      HI Judy D. I was going to say yes, it’s Veeshna’s recipe, but now that I think of it she may have only used water. A lot of people do. Plus they add cream at the end, which I usually find too rich so I don’t add it. The nail polish brand is “Essie” and the colour is “Lady Like”. Essie is my favourite brand of polish. ~ karen!

      • Judy D. says:

        ….Thanks Karen. I can’t wait to purchase and wear “Lady Like.” I’m also looking forward to trying out the soup. It’s just so easy that even on my laziest of days, I’ll have no excuse..

  16. Dominic says:

    Did I miss the asparagus soup recipe?

  17. Bobbie Gordner says:

    Here’s a “Good Thing” I learned a few years ago from Martha: Use a potato peeler to take the top layer off the bottom of the asparagus spear. It renders it just as tender as the rest of the stalk then! It’s too good to waste! Thanks for the recipe, and your hard work providing not only great info on so many subjects, but doing it with style and humor!

  18. Tracie says:

    When I was a wayward teen, I worked at the Cannery in Penticton, for a time. (like two weeks) I was on the canned asparagus line, and I hated it for many, many years. So soggy and gross. Years later my mom made me roasted asparagus with garlic, lemon, and parmesan, and I could not get enough of it. Still love it. I will have to try the soup, it sound great…and I will also mention the bracelet, so pretty!

  19. brenda says:

    oh good we get to talk about other vegetables now and our gardens
    have you planted your sweet potato slips yet ???

  20. Lindsay H says:

    I need to know how you photographed yourself snapping the asparagus… you a have a third arm?

    Also, please tell us where you got your cutlery!

    • brenda says:

      I’m guessing it was 2 forks – somehow – check out the 2 fork action with the asparagus

    • Karen says:

      Hi Lindsay H! To take photos that include myself I use a tripod and either a remote control to work the camera or the timer mode. Easy. And the cutlery is a classic pattern that was used in diners a lot. I bought it from an Art of Doing Stuff reader! ~ karen

  21. Deb says:

    Thank you, ma’am. Now please tell us about cucumbers, as I have one very large cucumber in my wee little garden and will be picking it soon.

  22. nancy says:

    oh sorry, i didn’t read past the recipe, i am being one of those annoying people that don’t read and then ask about what is clearly posted.

  23. nancy says:

    THAT BRACELET?? where did that come from?? And the soup, thought I was going to read about soup???
    Thank you for the recipe, however.
    I always thought I hated asparagus, my mom would sit and eat it right out of the can so happily and it made me ill. Then one day I tasted baked/roasted? fresh asparagus with salt and pepper and butter and the heavens opened and all that.
    Your photo skillz are off the chain these days.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Nancy, lol. More time with each post gives me more time for better photos. And the bracelet is a cheap bracelet purchased from my local grocery store! ~ karen

  24. brenda says:

    Oh I just saw the cutlery – I love it, too

    asparagus YUM – I never knew not to salt and pepper them until the end – now i know YAY
    this recipe is reminding me of a Martha Stewart one I did a long time ago – yours would be more intense and delicious – Martha makes you to cut up the skinny girl (or boy) ones into 1 inch bits with the parmesan and salt and pepper and then mixes them in with hollow penne so the asparagus gets stuck in half the pastas and so some are hollow and some are stuffed with asparagus.

    Do your chickens know you use chicken soup to make asparagus soup.

  25. Paula says:

    Wonderful! Thank you. btw…I like your cutlery.

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