Asparagus is my favorite spring vegetable, and is just now coming into season here in San Diego. As a kid, however, I wouldn’t touch the stuff, so it was new to me when my mother served asparagus with toasted bread crumbs, a recipe she had learned from her mother.
My husband Larry raved about it and, from that moment, he always asks for his asparagus “with crumbs”, just as my mom served us ages ago.
On my own, I prefer to roast asparagus, drizzled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. But when I served my grandma “Moo Moo’s” recipe, folks seem to enjoy it. And I think the buttery, toasted panko make the dish more substantial.
This dish is so simple that it’s what I think of as “barely cooking”. These days, I tend to use the Japanese panko breadcrumbs, but any commercial, unseasoned breadcrumbs work well.
TIP: When choosing fresh asparagus, the thicker spears are more flavorful than the pencil-sized bundles. Also, if you use walnut or grape seed oil instead of butter, I think this can be considered a vegan recipe, at least according to the ingredients in my panko breadcrumbs.
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed
- ½ Meyer lemon
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup panko
- pinch of kosher salt
- pinch of ground pepper
- lemon zest curls (optional garnish)
- Using a large skillet, fill with bottom ½-inch deep with water. Cover and bring to a boil.
- Add the asparagus, squeeze with the lemon, then add the squeezed fruit to the pan. Cover, lower heat to medium-low and cook until the asparagus is just fork tender, about 4-5 minutes.
- While the asparagus is cooking, melt the butter in a small skillet, then add the panko, salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes over medium-low heat. The panko browns quickly.
- Serve the asparagus and top each serving with an equal amount of the toasted breadcrumbs.