A light recipe that brings out the fresh flavor of asparagus. Came up with this for Christmas dinner - it looked festive and was a nice foil for all the richer dishes.
- Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil.
- Trim tough ends from asparagus, then cut into 1.5 - 2 inch lengths (I cut mine into thirds and that was about right). Cut red bell pepper into 1.5 - 2 inch strips.
- Add asparagus to boiling salted water and bring back to a boil. Boil for 1-3 minutes, depending on thickness of asparagus (you want it to be a little crunchy but not raw).
- Remove asparagus from boiling water and plunge it into a bowl of ice and water. This 'shocks' the asparagus and stops the cooking while retaining the bright green color. After asparagus has cooled, remove it from the ice water (you can now store it in a closed container in the fridge for up to 4 days).
- Heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic and red bell pepper and saute for 2 minutes (don't allow the garlic to brown - it will turn bitter). Add asparagus and toss to coat with the oil. When asparagus is heated through, remove from heat and add lemon zest and salt & pepper to taste.