Asparagus Gratin

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We never tire of asparagus and eat it all year long.  It is at its peak here in San Diego and our farmers markets are filled with beautiful bundles of asparagus. I have learned to bypass the thin, fragile stalks in favor of the thicker types of asparagus, since these seem more tasty and versatile in the recipes I like to make.

I tried this Asparagus Gratin earlier this week, pairing it with the seemingly endless leftovers from our Easter ham. Remember that old line, “The definition of eternity is two people and a ham”? Our guests had to cancel, unfortunately, so Larry and I have had our fill of ham until next Easter, I believe. Trying to be innovative and distract him from yet another ham supper, I pulled this recipe together, one I had cut out from a magazine some years ago. You could easily double this for a bigger crowd.

TIP: Watch the gratin carefully as you broil it for that final minute!

Serves 2-3

  • unsalted butter to grease baking dish
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed, peeled and cut on the diagonal in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup shallots, chopped
  • 2 slices white, dense sandwich bread, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • kosher salt and/or ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest

1. Butter a medium-sized shallow baking dish and set aside.

2. Bring a medium-sized saucepan of water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes.

3. Drain the asparagus in a colander and add to baking dish. Cover with foil to keep warm.

4. Heat the oil and butter in a medium-sized skillet. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat until limp, about 3 minutes. Add the bread cubes and pine nuts and cook, stirring,  for 5 minutes, just until the bread cubes begin to toast.

5. Remove skillet from the heat. Add salt and/or pepper and half the parmesan. Stir to combine.

6. Preheat the broiler.

7. Toss the asparagus with the mascarpone, lemon zest and remaining parmesan. Sprinkle bread cube mixture on top.

8. Broil 6 inches from the heat until topping turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Serve.

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16 Responses to Asparagus Gratin

  1. Rustic Garden Bistro April 12, 2012 at 2:35 pm #

    How big was that ham?! And is it all gone by now? I too have a stack of recipes that I’ve clipped over the years. My problem is, there’s just so much newer stuff That I can’t remember the last time I dug through my archives.

    We are a divided household. I like the thick stalks, but Barry prefers the pencil ones. So we get both. 🙂

    Thank you for the reminder that these are in season. I’ll have to go pick some up!


    • lizthechef April 12, 2012 at 2:43 pm #

      Hi Kim – still more ham to go – quiche tonight, then lentil soup later this week with the bone. Whew!

  2. Wendy Read (@Sunchowder) April 12, 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    I really like the use of marscapone cheese in this! And of cousre those hunks of bread, great photo Liz, and thanks for posting!

    • lizthechef April 12, 2012 at 2:48 pm #

      I think I prefer your gorgeous cake, Wendy!

  3. The Wimpy Vegetarian April 12, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

    This looks just delicious, Liz, and love that you used mascarpone!!

    • lizthechef April 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

      Next time, I think I will add more mascarpone. Thanks, Susan.

  4. TasteFood April 12, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

    This is beautiful! It’s almost like an asparagus bread pudding. I never tire of asparagus, either. In fact, if I weren’t packing right now, I would run to the store to get the ingredients to make this.

    • lizthechef April 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm #

      Lynda, it came together in about 15 minutes. My broiler browned this in 45 seconds…

  5. Jayne April 12, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Great recipe Liz! I love asparagus but usually just have them as they are. You have inspired me to do something different with them! I love the use of lemon zest and mascarpone!

    • lizthechef April 13, 2012 at 9:08 am #

      Thanks, Jayne – next time I will use a little more of the mascarpone.

  6. Oui, Chef April 13, 2012 at 5:02 am #

    Asparagus and gratin….two of my favorite words. How come I never thought to use them together in a recipe like you have, Liz? This sounds perfect, and IS a recipe I will make as soon as our local spears make an appearance.

    • lizthechef April 13, 2012 at 9:07 am #

      Thanks, Steve, we polished it off last night at supper –

  7. Nina April 14, 2012 at 12:38 pm #

    You have a great looking site. Loving it. I have never heard of Asparagus Gratin…sounds very interesting:)

    • lizthechef April 14, 2012 at 12:40 pm #

      Thanks for stopping by, Nina, and looking forward to visiting your site.

  8. Averie @ Averie Cooks April 15, 2012 at 3:12 pm #

    Liz I love asparagus, too. It’s just soooo tasty and you’re right, it’s in full swing right now in San Diego. So are everyone’s lemon trees as I walk and run aroudn the neighborhood, every other tree seems to be FULL of lemons!

    • lizthechef April 15, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

      Hi, Averie – someone swiped all my ripe Meyer lemons, believe it or not!

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