Dried basil or thyme*(optional—see "toppings" below for amounts)
TOPPINGS (optional; pick one, two, or your mix of choice):
Lemon zest and juice
Freshly grated parmesan cheese
Pinchred pepper flakes
Thyme: 1 teaspoon fresh or slightly heaped 1/4 teaspoon dried
Basil: 1 tablespoon fresh or 1 teaspoon dried
Drizzle balsamic reduction or aged balsamic vinegar
Drizzle of melted butter
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. For easy cleanup, line a rimmed baking with parchment paper or lightly coat with non-stick spray.
Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus by holding the stem end in one hand and gripping it near the base with the other. Briskly bend and the asparagus will naturally snap in the right place (I find this task very satisfying). Discard the stem ends.
Arrange the asparagus on the baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and any dried herbs you are using. Toss to coat, then spread into an even layer.
Bake the asparagus for 9 to 11 minutes (for thin stalks) or 15 to 20 minutes (for thicker stalks), just until it easily pierces with a fork.
Sprinkle the asparagus with your toppings of choice. My favorite is lemon zest and juice, a sprinkle of Parmesan, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Enjoy hot or at room temperature.
*If using dried herbs (see suggested amounts in "toppings"), add them with the salt prior to roasting; if using fresh herbs, sprinkle them on after the asparagus is finished roasting.
If doubling the recipe, divide the asparagus between two baking sheets to ensure it has room to roast in a single layer. Bake in the upper and lower thirds of the oven, switching the pans' positions in the upper and lower racks halfway through.
TO STORE: Refrigerate asparagus in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers on a baking sheet in the oven at 350 degrees F.
TO FREEZE: I don't recommend freezing asparagus, as it becomes mushy. If you must, freeze asparagus in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.