Spring Asparagus and Asiago Gratin
Asparagus is wonderful simply steamed and drizzled with olive oil and lemon juice and sprinkled with salt, but for something a little more decadent, try this creamless gratin, which is a perfect showcase for the elegant vegetable.
- 1 lb. (500 g) asparagus, tough ends trimmed
- 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup (4 oz./125 g) shredded Asiago cheese
- 3 Tbs. dried bread crumbs
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 to 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Preheat an oven to 450°F (230°C).
Arrange the asparagus in a single layer in a baking dish and drizzle with 1 Tbs. 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 tsp. salt and a grinding of pepper. Drizzle in the remaining 1 Tbs. olive 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, 15 minutes.
Drizzle the asparagus with the lemon juice and serve hot from the baking dish. Serves 4.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Rustic Italian, by Domenica Marchetti (Weldon Owen, 2011)