Asparagus has been a favorite of mine since back in the day when we picked it wild, growing along the side of country roads. Grilled, roasted, steamed, or stir-fried it is welcome at our table. Thankfully, it was one of the vegetables our kids would eat, though somewhere along our homeschooling journey they read that asparagus heads can be toxic and refused to eat them. They were happy to munch on the rest of the stem, but the tips were always left behind. Pretty sure it was the texture that turned them off, but they were adamant in their reasoning. It’s funny what stays with kids … not sure if they remember all the states and capitals, but the possibility of being poisoned by asparagus, stuck.
Okay. Don’t eat the heads. Whatever.
Like any parent happy their kids would eat any part of a vegetable, we decided that wasn’t a hill to die on and accepted the rejected heads. Besides, I’m happy to trade ya a spear for your heads.
In the wide world of side dishes, roasted asparagus is my go-to side because it pairs well with grilled, roasted, or braised meats, and its distinct flavor needs little more than extra-virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper. Though traditionally served with hollandaise, which is glorious, it doesn’t have to have heavy sauces to be elegant. In this recipe, caramelized onions add a delicate sweetness and balance the tangy blue cheese, while pine nuts bring an extra dimension of texture. It is a simple, yet gorgeous dish for a dinner party or dinner with a few friends on the patio.
Since the recipe starts with caramelizing onions, which takes an hour to reach deeply browned splendor, there’s lots of time to tend to the main course. I’m not even sure this should be called a recipe at all; it’s more like an idea, a notion of combining separate delicious things into a single bowl of inspired goodness. One more way to serve asparagus, one more way to enjoy caramelized onions, and one more reason to carve off a hunk of Blue cheese before it goes bad. (I’ve always wondered how anyone would know when Blue cheese went bad…) Blue, Gorgonzola, or feta cheese all work here—the amount is up to you.
For information about storing, prepping, and cooking asparagus, check out my earlier post Asparagus: Coveted Spears of Spring.