With fresh lemon, a little seasoning, and some Mediterranean favorites like feta and roasted red peppers, this Sautéed Asparagus is an easy, delicious side dish that complements almost any dinner. Serve it with your favorite fish, chicken, or toss it in a grain bowl for a tasty vegetarian meal.
An easy and healthy side dish
Sometimes the most simple recipes are the best! This 10-minute asparagus side dish is a great example of turning a handful of ingredients and an easy cooking method into a mouth-watering dish.
Asparagus is one of my favorite spring vegetables, and I typically look for green asparagus with thinner spears which are easy to roast or quickly sauté to serve as a side dish or toss with your favorite pasta.
The flavor profile of this easy sautéed asparagus is my own Mediterranean twist with a trio from my favorite spices, fresh lemon juice, garlic, roasted red peppers (the jarred kind is fine) and a sprinkle of feta cheese!
Trust me, with such a variety of flavors, this sautéed asparagus recipe will steal the show. If you want to add a pop of color or enhance a main dish that needs more flavor, serve this quick asparagus recipe next to it!
Is asparagus healthy?
One of the reasons I love asparagus, besides the fact it's easy to cook, is that it's low in calories but packed with nutrients. Asparagus is high in fiber, folates, vitamins A, C, E and K and even protein. It's also loaded with antioxidants and low in carbs.
And quickly cooking asparagus in good olive oil - like we do in this recipe - is a great way to take full advantage and add a little healthy fat to the meal.
How to trim asparagus?
The bottom of asparagus stalks are not the best for eating. They tend to be "woody" and tough when cooked. So before you cook your asparagus you should trim it.
The easiest way to trim asparagus is just to bend it at the bottom. It will naturally snap off at the tough part, leaving you with a healthy, perfectly tender asparagus stalk. From there, you can line the stalks up and cut the bottoms evenly for equal, uniform pieces. If you prefer, you can also chop off the woody bottoms with a sharp knife.
What you'll need
This asparagus side dish is a great example of needing just a few ingredients when working with fresh, high quality food. Asparagus, a few seasonings, lemon, peppers and feta are all you need for this easy dish.
- Extra virgin olive oil - A quality EVOO will make all the difference in flavor. See my favorite olive oils.
- Asparagus - Trim and cut your asparagus into equal size pieces before beginning.
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Garlic - Fresh minced garlic gets perfectly sautéed with the asparagus.
- Shallot - You can use red onions instead, if you don't have shallots.
- Lemon - We use both the zest and juice of the lemon to add brightness.
- Seasonings. What spices go with asparagus? Any number of spices or dried herbs will work here, and you can change them up to your liking! This time, I used Aleppo-style pepper and za'atar.
- Roasted red peppers - You can use roasted red peppers from a jar, just make sure they are well-drained and then chop them up into small bits.
- Feta cheese - You can start with ¼ to ⅓ cup of feta and add more to your liking.
Can I use white asparagus?
Yes, you can also sauté white asparagus. White and green asparagus are actually the same plant, the white asparagus is just harvested before the plant breaks through the ground and changes color due to the sunlight. The flavors are similar but since it's harder to harvest white asparagus, it's often more expensive and harder to find. If you do get your hands on some, you can absolutely use it in this recipe.
How to make asparagus on the stove?
This sautéed asparagus recipe is easy and quick; it will be ready in 10 minutes. The most important part of this recipe is sautéing just right, for the perfect texture, color and flavor. Here is how
- Cut the asparagus. Once you trim the tough ends, cut the asparagus spears into 3-inch pieces.
- Sauté the asparagus in extra virgin olive oil. In a large pan or cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering (it is important to use a large pan so that the asparagus pieces are not crowded so that they cook evenly and gain good color). Add the asparagus to the heated oil and season with a good pinch of kosher salt and black pepper. Cook, tossing regularly, for a couple of minutes, then add the shallots and garlic, cooking until asparagus is tender and lightly browned (3 to 4 more minutes).
- Remove from heat and add spices and remaining ingredients. Top the asparagus with lemon juice, zest, spices, roasted peppers and feta cheese.
- Serve. Serve sautéed asparagus immediately.
How long to sauté asparagus
The key to sautéing asparagus is to cook it until it's just tender, before it turns too soft. The color will give you a hint when it's ready, look for a deep green color. If the asparagus is deep green, just slightly wilted and tender, it is ready. Remove from the heat immediately.
The amount of time it takes to sauté asparagus depends on how thick the asparagus is. However, it cooks quickly and should be done in about 5 minutes.
Tips for success
When making this easy side dish, there are a few things to keep in mind. Follow these tips and the end result will be perfectly cooked asparagus that you'll want to make over and over:
- Select the best asparagus you can find. While you can purchase asparagus year-round, the best time to do so is February to June. When you're choosing your asparagus, look for long stems that are bright green in color and firm to touch, with smooth skin. The flower-like tips should be closed and if you get a squeaky or rubbery sound when you squeeze the bunch, you've found the perfect asparagus!
- Trim the tough ends and cut the asparagus in equal size pieces for even cooking.
- Use a large pan or cast iron skillet that will fit the asparagus in one single layer. You'll get the best results if you do not crowd the pan.
- Do not overcook it. As soon as the asparagus is just tender and cooked, remove it from the heat.
- Spices for asparagus. Asparagus will take well to many flavors and flavor combinations, you do not have to season it the same exact way every time! To change things up, you can try seasonings like dried oregano, cumin, paprika, or even smoked paprika, and a dash of red pepper flakes if you like some heat.
Serve it with
This quick asparagus recipe makes a great side dish for almost any meal. Here are a few ideas: grilled lamb kabobs or lamb rack chops, baked chicken drumsticks, or baked grouper. You can also use it as part of vegetarian grain bowls or try it in something like this herbed couscous bowl!
Other sautéed asparagus topping ideas:
I've shared with you my favorite combination of seasonings and toppings for sautéed asparagus. If you fall in love with this side dish as much as I have, feel free to switch it up with even more toppings and add-ins. Some possibilities include:
- Sun-dried tomatoes
- Pine nuts
- Parmesan cheese
- Kalamata olives
- Other dried herbs
How to store leftovers
Cooked asparagus should be eaten as soon as possible. There's nothing quite like freshly sautéed asparagus. However, leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge. Just note that the longer cooked asparagus is refrigerated, the softer it becomes. For best results, wrap tightly in foil and don't add the peppers, spices and feta until ready to serve.
More easy asparagus recipes:
- Easy Blanched Asparagus with Mediterranean Salsa
- Roasted Asparagus Salad with Tomato and Basil
- Mediterranean Potato Hash with Asparagus, Chickpeas and Poached Eggs
- Easy Mediterranean Grilled Veggies
Easy Sautéed Asparagus
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed, and cut into 3-inch pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 lemon, zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon chile pepper flakes, I used Aleppo pepper which is milder
- 1 teaspoon za'atar
- ⅓ cup roasted red peppers from a jar, drained, and chopped
- ⅓ cup feta cheese, more to your liking
- Heat up ¼ cup olive oil over medium-high heat until just shimmering.
- Add the asparagus and season with kosher salt and black pepper.
- Cook for a couple minutes, tossing regularly, then add the shallots and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes or until the asparagus is tender and lightly browned.
- Remove from the heat and add the lemon juice, zest, spices, roasted peppers and feta cheese. Serve immediately.
- Be sure to use a large pan or cast iron skillet that is large enough to cook the asparagus without crowding.
- Feel free to change the seasoning. Asparagus will take well to other spices and dried herbs like oregano, cumin, paprika, or even smoked paprika, or red pepper flakes for heat.
- Visit Our Shop to browse quality Mediterranean ingredients including olive oils and spices used in this recipe.