Asparagus with Brioche Crumbs

This asparagus with brioche crumbs is proof that steamed asparagus needs little more than a sprinkling of buttery bread crumbs and lemon zest to shine.

Asparagus with brioche crumbs piled on a white serving platter.

Curious about this asparagus with brioche crumbs?  We don’t really need to say anything. Her simple and savvy strategy is, we think, pretty self-explanatory. Not to mention stunning. Use as much or as little butter as you please. Asparagus not in season? No brioche to be found? No problem. Challah or croissants make swell stand-ins for buttery brioche. And virtually any sturdy green vegetable–we’re thinking green beans or sugar snaps or even broccoli (florets and stalks)–would work swell in place of spring spears. We haven’t heard this from the lovely Alice, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for this recipe (which we always refer to as Asparagus by Alice). But somehow we have a feeling she’d be okay with whatever swap the situation demands.–Renee Schettler

Asparagus with Brioche Crumbs

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 10 M
  • 10 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 1 reviews
Print RecipeBuy the Vegetarian: A Delicious Celebration of Fresh Ingredients cookbook

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Bring a pot of salted water to a boil or prepare a steamer set over but not touching simmering water. Cook the asparagus spears until just tender or done to your liking, 1 1/2 minutes or more, depending on the thickness of the spears.

Drain the spears and pat them dry. Transfer the asparagus to a platter.

Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter for starters in a skillet over medium heat. Add the brioche crumbs along with the lemon zest and cook, stirring frequently, until the crumbs are golden and lightly toasted, 3 to 5 minutes. (You may need to add more butter, depending on just how buttery you like your bread crumbs. If your bread crumbs become a single mass of buttery goodness, you got a little overzealous with the butter and now need to add more crumbs.) Transfer the crumbs to a plate and season with salt and, if desired, pepper.

Scatter the buttery bread crumbs over the asparagus and strew with more lemon zest, if desired. Escort the asparagus to the table and accept accolades. Originally published May 29, 2012.

Print RecipeBuy the Vegetarian: A Delicious Celebration of Fresh Ingredients cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

This is a wonderfully fresh way to top your vegetables. My family is crazy for asparagus. I couldn’t find any brioche, so I substituted mini croissants. The lemon flavor was subtle and the toasted crumbs were very light. Not much was leftover.

This simple recipe is certainly a keeper as you can adjust the quantities and flavors to suit your taste. The asparagus was steamed until tender crisp.

I usually roast or grill asparagus with just a little olive oil and a sea salt pepper blend and wanted to try something different but still not covered in a heavy sauce. This recipe was perfect for a change.

I used about 1/2 cup of brioche crumbs (the local bread store gave me the day-old brioche rolls at no charge) to half a stick of butter. The lemon zest added a nice hint of flavor but was not strong at all and just complemented the asparagus.

My boys don’t love asparagus but thought this was good and said they would try the same technique on broccoli or green beans.


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  1. I, too, love asparagus. I realized the other day that my son’s girlfriend did not know how to trim asparagus? Little things we already know, others may not. LOL. This is fantastic.

    1. Terrific to hear that you like this, Mary! It’s so simple and yet in some ways rather novel. Let us know if ever you vary it at all, whether swapping one citrus zest for another or adding crushed hazelnuts to the bread crumbs or such. We love to hear what happens in others’ kitchens…

  2. Great recipe! I love asparagus, and the brioche crumbs look like a fantastic/delicious topping!

  3. Seriously great! Why do I never think to use egg-rich sweet breads like brioche and challah for cooking? Actually for anything other than eating as is? This looks fabulous!

    1. I find it nearly impossible to resist eating them as is, Jamie, so they never quite last long enough to cook with. But they do such wonderful things in other recipes! I love seeing brioche in a savory dish.

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