Simple Italian Recipe for Braised Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

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I have yet to eat asparagus in a restaurant that tastes as good as this recipe.  This is my favorite asparagus recipe EVER and it’s so simple to make!  

Not only is it extremely easy and fast to make with minimal steps and can be done all in one pan on the stove, but is so flavorful thanks to the balsamic vinegar and sprinkling of Italian cheese at the end that make this a complete home run.  (I can’t believe I used a sports analogy for this…)

In this post, you’ll learn how to cook asparagus on the stove (any stove like cooktop, gas, or induction will do).   Technically you don’t have to finish the dish off in the oven, but I strongly recommend it.

I learned this recipe from my sister who prepared it for a meal once and then when it was my turn at another dinner occasion I tried it too. Everyone loved it!   Even my sister-in-law was going back for thirds and she flat out said she didn’t really care for asparagus but that this recipe was awesome.

That’s like the ultimate compliment!

Simple and Fresh Ingredients are Essential

Ingredients you’ll need are super simple and you probably have them:  water, olive oil, balsamic vinegar (I’ve used organic fig vinegar and man is that good stuff!), Romano grated cheese, and that’s it!

There is no garlic, no salt, and no pepper.

Don’t even think about using canned asparagus – it won’t work!  Get the real deal in the produce section of your grocery store, you won’t regret it.  

How to Cook the Asparagus on the Stove

Cooking asparagus is so easy, so never be afraid of the task!  I’m sure there are different views on how to do this, fortunately there is no single correct way.  

So, I’ll share with you my tried and true method for cooking the asparagus so it doesn’t turn into a mushy mush mess.  You can print the instructions from below.  

Cooking the asparagus in water on stove
Cooking the asparagus in water on the stove doesn’t require a lot of water

I get a frying pan, then I put in the cleaned and trimmed asparagus, and add some water so they are 1/4 deep in the water.  

I bring the temp up to about medium and let it cook and boil a little (you can see the bubbles in the image) and I turn the asparagus with a fork from time to time.

Watch the asparagus turn bright green and when the water is nearly evaporated, I add in some olive oil to coat the asparagus and let it cook just about a minute or two longer.  

Cooking the asparagus with some olive oil for a minute
Added olive oil to coat the asparagus on the stove

It’s okay if there is still a little water in the pan when you add the oil.  Since it’s not high heat you don’t have to worry about oil flying all over the place as if you were frying.  

Also, sometimes I still have too much water in the pan, so before adding the oil I will simply pour some of it out.  You don’t want the asparagus to stick to the pan or burn, so that’s why I don’t worry about a little liquid in there.   

Next, once I can pierce the asparagus with the fork with a slight push I add in a few drizzles of balsamic and sprinkle the cheese on top.  

We don’t stop here, instead we let the oven finish cooking the asparagus with a high heat, almost as if broiling them.  

Finish Cooking the Asparagus in the Oven

Then what you do is put the frying pan (or transfer to an oven-safe pan if your frying pan can’t go in the oven) and let it broil (or almost broil at about 400F) for about 2 minutes.  

Cooking asparagus in the oven
Finish cooking the asparagus in the oven with the cheese and balsamic vinegar

Quick tip – if using a pan like mine in the picture, remember to keep a pot holder on the handle after taking it out.  It’s so easy to forget how hot it is.  I forget easily and I’ve actually burned letters of the engraved brand name into my hand with one of my Cuisinart pans. I had a nice letter c on my hand!

Take the broiled asparagus out and serve.

If you can’t serve right away, don’t let it keep cooking.  Just set aside and when it’s almost time to serve, put it back under the heat for about a minute to reheat quickly.

Is this step required?  No.  But broiling the asparagus helps caramelize the cheese and balsamic to the asparagus.  It adds a nice crispness to the asparagus and well… it’s beautiful!    

Why Don’t I Boil the Asparagus in a Big Pot of Water?

Short answer.  I’m lazy and think it’s not necessary.   I have an old Italian cookbook and it talks about boiling asparagus, but for this recipe…I don’t think so.

Remember, these are not to be mush.  You should still cut the asparagus with a knife and there will be a slight firmness (not crunch).

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Enjoy the recipe, you won’t be disappointed!

Until next time… Ciao!


Italian Recipe for Cooking Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar and Cheese

Easy Italian recipe for cooking asparagus over the stove and finishing it off in the oven. The balsamic vinegar cooks into the asparagus and with the sprinking of grated Parmesan or Romano cheese at the end puts it over the top!

Course Side Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 people


  • asparagus stalks cleaned
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar (fig vinegar is good too!)
  • grated Italian Parmesan or Romano cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400F

  2. Clean the asparagus and snap off the hard ends

  3. Add to a frying pan and pour in enough water to cover them just under halfway up.  

  4. Cook the asparagus over medium heat until they are bright green and can be pierced with a fork with a little bit of pressure (you don't want them over cooked).  This will take about 5-10 minutes.

  5. If water is not evaporated, pour most of it out and drizzle the olive oil to coat and cook about a minute longer.

  6. Drizzle the balsamic vinegar and sprinkle on the cheese and let cook about a minute.

  7. Move to the oven in an oven safe dish (or use the frying pan if it is oven safe) and cook for about 2 minutes

  8. Remove from oven and enjoy!  They should be slightly firm, but not crunchy.

Recipe Notes

The trick here is to not overcook the asparagus.  Once the asparagus is bright green you can start testing it's firmness with a fork.  Keep moving them around so they get cooked on all sides (like a hot dog on a grill), and when the fork can pierce it with a mild push you know it's time to move to the next step!

Romano cheese is the best choice, but parmesan will be fine if that's what you have. 

Super easy, super simple and out of this world delicious!  Enjoy!


Simple Italian Recipe for Braised Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar

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