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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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