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Kitchen Mailbox Countdown to Dinner Dining
Countdown to Dinner: Roasted Asparagus a versatile side dish suitable for oven or the outdoor grill

Thursday, June 29, 2000

Tested by Nancy Anderson

When it's 90 degrees in the shade, the last recipe you want to read about is Oven Roasted Anything.

Still, today's Countdown recipe for Oven Roasted Asparagus sounded so delicious we had to make it.

Laura Miller of Coraopolis, who sent us the recipe, advises that the dish is versatile -- you don't have to heat up the kitchen.

"It can easily be cooked on the grill with a shorter cooking time," she said. "That'll give it a smoky taste."

At the Countdown desk we love asparagus (we consider it the green queen of vegetables) and have run recipes for it sugared and Oriental style.

Today's recipe is baked in a tantalizing bath of wine, garlic, lemon and olive oil, leaving behind a garlicky, lemony aftertaste.

Laura got her version from the Internet. "I found it on Prevention magazine's Web site, www.healthyideas.com," she said.

Her oldest child, Hannah, 11, loves it, but not the younger three kids.

"The little ones always get excited when they first see it -- they're looking forward to eating some 'Juniors,' the name of the asparagus character on the "Veggie Tales" videos -- but they usually only last a couple of bites," she said. "I think the garlic gets to them."

Life is busy at the Miller residence. Laura and her husband are also parents to Tom, almost 4, Joy, 2 and Hope, 1, a miniature Collie who herds the kids, a cat and goldfish.

"We're a typical middle-class family," she said. "We even have a van."

Gardening and cooking are two passions she finds time for, despite her growing family.

Especially cooking. "I find ways to fit it in no matter what," she said. "If I know the day looks hectic, I'll make an early morning Crock-Pot."

A graduate of Towson College in Baltimore, Laura was a free-lance writer and editor for newspapers and magazines before meeting her husband and moving to Pittsburgh.

She hopes to get back to it eventually. But for now she's happy to design the Web site at her daughter's school.

"It keeps my hand in."

Oven-Roasted Asparagus

1 pound asparagus
2 cloves garlic, slivered
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons white wine
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Break off tough ends of spears. With peeler, peel bottom half of stalks.

Scatter garlic in 9-by-13-inch pan. Arrange asparagus in single layer. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes.

Turn and roast 8 to 10 minutes more until slightly crisp and liquid is almost gone.

Do you have an entree, salad or vegetable side dish recipe (no desserts, please!) that can be made in 30 minutes or less from six ingredients or fewer (not counting water, salt and pepper)? Share it with Countdown to Dinner.

The PG tests all recipes and if we select your recipe for publication, you'll receive a free selection from our cookbook grab bag of current releases.

Send your recipe to Countdown to Dinner, Post-Gazette Food, 34 Blvd. of the Allies, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or fax to 412-263-1313. Please include your name, neighborhood and daytime phone number. Or e-mail to: nanderson@post-gazette.com. Questions? Call 412-263-1760.

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