pencil-thin asparagus with brown butter & pistachios

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5 from 2 reviews


  • 1 1/2 pounds pencil-thin asparagus, woody ends trimmed off (see note) 
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, finely chopped
  • zest and juice of one lemon
  • flaky salt 


  1. In a large skillet with a lid over high heat, bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Add a big pinch of salt. 
  2. Lay out a clean kitchen towel.
  3. Once the water is boiling, add the asparagus and cover. Steam / boil for 1-2 minutes (depending on thickness)
  4. Remove the asparagus to the towel and spread them out in something close to a single layer. Drain the water and return the skillet to the burner, over medium heat. 
  5. Once the skillet is completely dry, add the butter and – keeping a close eye on it – let it darken in color. You want it to be fragrant and the color of golden caramel, but if you cross the line into burnt it will bitter. 
  6. Once it’s just about the color you want, stir in the pistachios. Toast them for 30 seconds or so, just to give them a little extra color and bring out their flavors. 
  7. Return the asparagus to the skillet, along with the lemon zest and juice, and toss to coast with the brown butter.
  8. Transfer to a platter and sprinkle with some flaky salt. 


Hold the asparagus at the bottom (woody end) and about 1/2 way down from the spear top. Then bend until it snaps. It will break closer to the bottom, and you’ll have more on your plate and less in the trash.