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Mastering asparagus that’s seared and smoky outside, yet still crisp on the inside

Skillet-Charred Asparagus with Lemon and Tarragon

Appears in March-April 2021

30 minutes

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Skillet-Charred Asparagus with Lemon and Tarragon

For charring vegetables on the stovetop, nothing works quite as well as cast-iron, which retains and distributes heat better than other cookware. We use a 12-inch cast-iron skillet to char asparagus that has been cut into 2-inch pieces. Even so, we cook in two batches to avoid overcrowding in the pan, which would result in steaming. We found that in a non-cast-iron skillet, the asparagus doesn’t char as deeply. And afterward, the pan requires serious effort to scrub clean. We keep the flavors simple and finish the asparagus with butter, lemon juice and tarragon, ingredients that complement the vegetables’ green, grassy notes.




Don’t use asparagus that’s very fat or especially thin or it will wind up over- or undercooked. Look for spears that are slightly thicker than pencil-sized. After transferring the first batch of cooked asparagus to the bowl, don’t cover tightly. Partially or loosely covering the bowl will allow some heat to escape so the asparagus doesn’t overcook while it waits for the second batch.

30 minutes

Kenneth F.

Very quick, easy, and good. I used tarragon leaves that I had frozen so needed a bit more than the recipe called for. This would also be good with green beans or broccoli, probably greens such as collards or spinach too.

Keith T.

Very delicious. The tarragon + asparagus combination was a revelation.

Jennifer B.

I used brocolli and my son even asked for seconds. It was delicious.

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