Looking for a quick and easy side dish for spring? I’m loving this pan-fried asparagus topped with a Mediterranean-inspired mix of tangy feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts.
With fresh asparagus hitting its seasonal peak, I felt inspired to create a quick and easy side dish that epitomized springtime here at 8600 feet. Pan frying is an ideal early spring cooking method, when I naturally start craving things a little bit on the fresher side, but still am not quite ready for a plate full of raw veggies.
Lightly cooked pan-fried asparagus is hitting the spot.
The toppings—feta cheese (crisped up in the skillet with the asparagus), sun-dried tomato, and toasted pine nuts—make this vegetarian side dish a whole new beast.
Comforting and satiating—and it’s still something you can make in about 10 minutes with pantry ingredients.
How to Make Pan-Fried Asparagus
To make pan-fried asparagus, cook spears in a little bit of oil in a skillet over medium heat until the bottoms start to turn brown. Then flip the spears over and cook another few minutes until they’re totally done.
Pan frying is quick and easy and doable even if you’re a novice vegetable cook.
You could be done right there, but you know me. I couldn’t help but make a few embellishments.
First, the garlic. Just pop a few smashed cloves in the skillet with the oil and asparagus so the veggies take in the garlicky flavor while they brown.
My favorite part, though, is the feta cheese.
Some of the cheese crumbles fall in between the asparagus spears and cook directly on the skillet. These pieces turn brown and crispy and just add a really dreamy texture that, topped with flavorful sun-dried tomatoes and pine nuts, almost feels too good to be a 7-ingredient 10-minute recipe.
Need a Main Dish to go with?
Here are a few of my favorite Mediterranean-inspired main dish recipes.
- Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Burgers
- Creamy Vegan Mushroom Kale Pasta
- Roasted Garlic Caprese Pizza
- Toasted Freekeh with Greens and Tahini
- Charred Eggplant Pita Wraps
Pan-fried asparagus is topped with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, and toasted pine nuts in this Mediterranean-inspired side dish.
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 3 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- Salt and pepper
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese or tofu feta (see note)
- ½ cup julienne cut sun-dried tomato
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted if desired (see note)
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)
Pour grapeseed oil in a large, preheated skillet over medium heat. (Work in small batches if needed.) Tilt to spread the oil until the pan is evenly coated.
Spread asparagus and smashed garlic cloves on the skillet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook 3 minutes, or until bottoms of asparagus begin to brown. Remove garlic cloves from the skillet and flip asparagus spears. Pour feta cheese over the asparagus and cook 2 additional minutes, or until asparagus is tender and browned.
- Remove from heat and top with sun-dried tomato, pine nuts, and parsley (if using).
Vegan variation: Substitute tofu feta or nut cheese for the feta cheese.
To toast pine nuts: Spread on a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Cook 3 minutes, stirring often, or until browned and aromatic.
To soften sun-dried tomatoes (optional): Soak in hot or boiling water 1-2 minutes before using.