This recipe, where the asparagus is doused in browned butter with crunchy hazelnuts (which taste like browned butter) is an ode to the moment the asparagus arrives in the spring and the promise of the warmer weather that will soon follow. The small victory in this recipe is learning how to brown butter, taking its flavor from clean and pure to somewhere deeper and nuttier—not unlike toasting nuts before eating them. Topped with fried or poached eggs (or served alongside scrambled eggs), this makes an excellent breakfast or light lunch.
1 lb [455 g] asparagus, tough ends snapped off and discarded
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup [30 g] crushed hazelnuts (a rolling pin makes quick work of this)
1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Fill a large skillet halfway with generously salted water (it should taste like seawater) and bring it to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until the stalks are bright green and just tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the asparagus in a colander and set aside.
Wipe off any remaining water in the skillet, put it over medium-high heat, and add the butter. Once the butter melts, add the hazelnuts and cook, stirring, until both the hazelnuts and the butter brown, about 4 minutes. Add the asparagus to the pan and stir to coat the spears with the butter.
Transfer the asparagus to a serving platter and scrape all of the butter and hazelnuts over it. Sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt and drizzle with the lemon juice. Serve immediately.
DRIZZLE PIECES OF ROASTED CARROTS OR SQUASH with browned butter, squeeze over some fresh lemon or even orange juice, and sprinkle with flaky sea salt. You can also crisp up a few leaves of chopped sage in the butter and add those, too.
TOP SAUTÉED OR ROASTED FLOUNDER (or another flatfish) with browned butter, capers, and lemon juice.Classic and delicious!