Spring Asparagus and Asiago Gratin

Asparagus is wonderful simply steamed and sprinkled with olive oil, lemon juice, and salt. But on a chilly night in early spring, this creamless gratin is a perfect showcase for the elegant vegetable.–Domenica Marchetti

LC Spring Asparagus? Note

Spring asparagus is a lovely, lovely thing. Yet many of us long ago lost touch with the fact that spring really ought to be redundant in conjunction with asparagus. Think about it. Those skinny, bendy, grassy-smelling spears show up at the farmers market only during–you guessed it–spring, as opposed to those stocky or shriveled bundles lashed together with purple rubber bands and plonked in a bin of stinky water at the supermarket come mid-January. Still, should you find yourself not quite able to hold out until actual spring asparagus, this recipe from one of our favorite cookbook authors stealthily conceals all manner of out-of-season vegetal sins.

One last thing. The gratin turns out just as lovely minus the breadcrumbs, so take note, those of you who eschew gluten or embrace Passover.

Asparagus and Asiago Gratin Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 10 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Asiago fresco cheese
  • 3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
  • 2. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer in a large baking dish and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Toss the spears gently to coat with the oil.
  • 3. In a bowl, whisk together the cheese, bread crumbs, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a grinding of pepper. Drizzle in the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and stir until well mixed. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the asparagus. Bake, uncovered, until the asparagus is just tender and the topping is melted and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your asparagus.
  • 4. Drizzle the asparagus with some lemon juice and serve hot, straight from the baking dish, or transfer to a lovely little gratin dish to take to the table.
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Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Anne D.

Mar 28, 2012

I was pretty skeptical when I saw this recipe, as roasting asparagus is a pretty straightforward activity. But boy, was I impressed. Just by skipping that one little step at the end–the part where the tender asparagus gets just a short blast of extra heat from the broiler–I was missing out on the best possible flavor. This recipe really couldn’t be easier and the results were delicious. I trimmed my asparagus by bending the spear until the tough, woody part broke off, and then roasted it. In spite of the fact that my spears were pretty thick, they were perfectly knife-tender in 10 minutes. It took about four minutes under the broiler until I saw some of the browning the recipe instructed me to watch for. This is the part that makes all the difference. The quick broil renders the heads of the asparagus crispy and slightly caramelized , while the rest of the spear retains its fresh green flavor. It’s a great combination and better yet with a spritz of fresh lemon juice. I’ve found my new roasting method. Yum.

Testers Choice
Jessica DeStefano

Mar 28, 2012

I’ve been roasting asparagus for as long as I can remember, but I never thought about giving it a turn under the broiler. Loved the almost crisp, flavorful spots it produced, similar to grilling. Will be using this method again.

Testers Choice
Kim Graham

Mar 28, 2012

The really wonderful thing about this Roasted Asparagus is not just how simple it is, although that’s certainly a bonus, but also that the natural sweetness of the asparagus comes shining through. We eat asparagus as a vegetable side often when it’s in season, and I’m sure this recipe will be used frequently.

Testers Choice
Jyoti R.

Mar 28, 2012

This is a good basic recipe that everyone should have in their repertoire, a nice quiet co-star on your dinner table. For a beginning cook, it’s a foolproof way to make perfect asparagus.

Testers Choice
Eydie Desser

Mar 28, 2012

This is a really great way of roasting asparagus. Giving it a quick char in the broiler adds so much flavor. The timing was perfect, although of course it depends on the size of the asparagus. I used medium-sized spears, roasted them for eight minutes, and then quickly broiled them, and they were delicious. A simple and easy way to make a heathy, last-minute side dish.

Testers Choice
Amy Howard

Mar 28, 2012

This is simple and easy to make, and is a great side dish with any meal. I make this all the time. You can add a little Parmesan to change it up, too.

Testers Choice
Anne Wallace

Mar 28, 2012

This is a perfect way to cook asparagus when you want a healthy and fast recipe. I found that eight minutes was the ideal time to cook medium thick (1/4-inch thick) asparagus. There was still a very light crunch. If you are using baby, pencil-thin asparagus (which actually is even narrower than a number-two yellow pencil!), you may want to test at six or seven minutes. The asparagus is also good served at room temperature for a summer evening meal or snack.


Comments
Comments
  1. Gary Allen says:

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to “arrange the asparagus in a single layer” AFTER tossing with olive oil?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Gary, it may seem fussy, but over the years I’ve found that the simplest and most efficient way to thoroughly coat each and every spear–which prevents the asparagus from drying out in a hot oven–is to arrange the asparagus in a single layer BEFORE tossing with olive oil. After I drizzle with olive oil, I don’t toss them haphazardly, which would be rather pointless after taking the time to arrange them in a single layer. Instead I turn the spears to coat them, much like a log being rolled in water. [Please note, LC in no way condones or supports the massacre of trees for commercial gain.] Of course, Gary, you can oil your asparagus however you please.

  2. A perfectly lovely way to enjoy the first fresh spring spears. And one that will most definitely grace our Easter menu.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      We look forward to hearing how this melds with the rest of your Easter menu, Lana. We’re thinking it’s a recipe that plays terribly nicely with others…

  3. Great way to enjoy some asparagus!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Ain’t going to argue with you, Kevin. Not given how much we respect your blog and your cooking. Really appreciate you chiming in!

  4. Thanks for your comments, all. Love the idea of giving it a quick zap under the broiler! Cheers, Domenica

  5. Cyndi Smith says:

    Gonna try thiss tonight but was woundering if I could use mozzarella would be just as good? Thank you

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Cyndi, if you have mozzarella on hand and want to try it, that seems good enough reason to me to try it. It’s going to be ever so slightly less complex (not to mention less salty) in taste and a little more gooey in texture, but not in a bad way. So give it a whirl and let us know what you think!

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