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!
- 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.