This asparagus and Asiago gratin couldn’t be quicker or easier. Asparagus is roasted in the oven and then bread crumbs, lemon zest, cheese, and parsley are sprinkled over the asparagus and roasted just until everything is crisp and buttery and lightly browned.
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 for 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 bread crumbs, so take note, those of you who eschew gluten or embrace Passover.–David Leite
*What can I substitute for Asiago fresco?
This asparagus gratin recipe calls for Asiago fresco rather than the more commonly found Asiago you might be used to seeing at your cheese counter. Asiago fresco or (pressato) is a semi-soft cheese with largish, irregular-shaped holes. A thin and elastic crust with soft, buttery, white-yellowish interior that has a taste reminiscent of cream or fresh milk, fresco is the youngest version of Asiago cheese. It tastes sweet, buttery, delicate, and tangy and has a slightly, salty aftertaste. Search out young Asiago, if you can, but if not—Swiss, mild white Cheddar or Fontina will all work. Of course, aged Asiago will too, but won’t give you the creaminess of a younger cheese and it will pack a wallop more salt, so act accordingly.
Asparagus and Asiago Gratin
- 1 pound asparagus ends trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup shredded Asiago fresco cheese*
- 3 tablespoons dried bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley leaves
- Finely grated zest of 1 lemon plus 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450°F (232°C).
- 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.
- 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 bread crumb 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.
- Drizzle the asparagus with some lemon juice and serve hot, straight from the baking dish, or arrange on a lovely little gratin dish to take to the table. Originally published March 28, 2012.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
What a delectable way to serve that fresh picked spring asparagus! I’d never tried roasted asparagus, having aways believed what could be better than simple asparagus dripping with lemon butter? This asparagus and Asiago gratin recipe was quick and easy to fix and mouthwateringly good as well.
The recipe was clearly written, easy to follow, and the result was a dish that could be served at any company meal and could be doubled and tripled easily depending on the size of your party. We all loved it!
This spring asparagus and Asiago gratin is delicious and easy. I love how the cheese gets crisp when it melts against the baking dish. Mmm…like fricco. I’d bet the cheese and breadcrumb mixture could elevate other vegetables when asparagus is not in season. Perhaps cauliflower, broccoli, even frozen artichoke hearts would be delicious, too.
This spring asparagus and Asiago gratin is very easy to prepare and makes a very nice vegetable side dish that can be served with many different entrées. The lemon and parsley add a nice freshness and balance the sharpness and nuttiness of the Asiago. I could see making this dish with shredded Gruyère or Comte as an alternative. I used medium-size asparagus and the baking time was perfect.
Sometimes a recipe for asparagus grabs you by the shoulders, shakes you, and demands your attention—this is that recipe. It says it serves 4. Beware! I made this for my husband and myself, and we were battling for the last spear and last fleck of cheesy bread crumb. It’ so simple yet so flavorful you will be making it regularly. I can’t wait for dinner!
As written, the recipe was a huge success. Everyone absolutely loved the combination of the strong Asiago cheese with the tart lemon. We also loved how tender the asparagus became. 1 pound of asparagus was devoured among 3 1/2 people (the half is our toddler).
This is a simple, tasty, and lovely way to prepare asparagus. The asparagus emerges from the oven bright green and can be cut with a fork but isn’t mushy or stringy. The topping, with its savory and citrusy flavor, is a great complement to the asparagus, especially the lemon. This is a dish that really celebrates the dawning of spring.
If you’re thinking that asparagus doesn’t belong in a gratin, keep in mind that there’s lemon zest involved in this one, and it makes all the difference. Somehow the lemon zest, when mixed with the parsley, bread crumbs, and cheese, makes the topping of this gratin seem light and bright and truly delicious.
I did deviate from the recipe in one way: I used fresh breadcrumbs, whizzed in the food processor, instead of dried. Because fresh bread crumbs are coarser, I used twice the volume. I would strongly recommend this as a variation.
Asparagus are looking really tasty in our supermarkets lately, so I was excited to try this recipe over the weekend. This was a very easy and delicious way to make asparagus—the topping gave just the right amount of crunch and flavor to the tender yet slightly crisp asparagus.
I made this for brunch with some poached eggs and it was a great combination. The lemony crunch on the asparagus would lend itself well to a few capers, I think. I think a sprinkling of crushed red pepper flakes would work also well. Overall, a wonderful dish that worked well for brunch, but would work nicely with a light lunch or even a spring dinner.
With fresh spring asparagus, this light gratin has an excellent balance of acidity, earthy cheesiness, and crisp and crunchy. When made with medium-size asparagus, the dish may have a little too much bread crumb and cheese mixture, as it covers the taste of fresh asparagus, but it would be perfect for produce that was a tad older or not in season.
We enjoyed this gratin as a side to Turkey Cutlets with Marsala . I thought Asiago was a good choice since it’s just salty enough for the delicately flavored spring asparagus, which could easily be overpowered by Parmigiano or pecorino. The lemon zest was very nice—it perked up the dish with its slight tang and refreshing aroma. One thing to note: check the asparagus after 10 minutes of baking if you like it quite crisp.
This is a great recipe to “fix” that stalky, thick asparagus that’s available during winter. I can’t wait to try this recipe with tender, slender spring asparagus. Be very careful with the amount of salt that you use since the Asiago will also add salt to the dish. Also watch the topping closer than the clock—15 minutes in a 450°F oven may overcook your asparagus, depending on its moisture content. The lemon juice finish is an important step as the fresh citrus adds a nice touch.
What a great way to greet the fresh asparagus showing up at farmers markets. I discovered roast asparagus a few years ago, and since then I won’t cook it any other way. This recipe kicked it up a few notches.
When shopping, you need to be aware that Asiago fresco cheese is not the same as the commonly found aged Asiago. The texture and flavor is quite different. It’s worth calling around to find someone who carries that cheese. If you can’t find Asiago fresco, ask if they have something similar to it. One of the folks I spoke with recommended Italian pecorino Saracino, which is a young pecorino. That also worked very well.
I checked the asparagus after it had cooked for 10 minutes. At that point, the topping was getting pretty dark brown. I turned the oven down to 425°F and after 2 more minutes, the asparagus was cooked to our liking, which is still having a bit of a bite to it. I recommend checking the asparagus at about 8 to 10 minutes, depending upon how thick your asparagus is.
This was a great asparagus and Asiago gratin recipe.
I couldn’t find Asiago fresco cheese so I grated extra aged Asiago. I used sea salt but it tasted too salty for me. My guess is that it was too salty because of the aged cheese instead of the fresco. The drizzle of lemon juice added a nice tang. This was a quick and easy recipe that I’ll make again.
The asparagus cooked up perfectly. The mix of flavors—cheese, parsley, and lemon—were perfect. The way the cheese cooked on top was like eating a Parmasan crisp with the asparagus. The one thing that is difficult is that the cheese does separate from the asparagus when serving so that some bites get more cheese than others.
I frequently prepare plain roasted asparagus and I love it. Adding this cheesy, bread crumb topping really takes it over the top. It’s easy enough for a weeknight, sophisticated enough for company. I used panko for the bread crumbs and they worked beautifully.