For once, my blog slackerliness is totally going to work in your favor! This is another recipe I made on Easter, but I had to make it with non-local asparagus. Now, asparagus season is here in New England and you are now armed and ready with this worthy preparation.
Looks can be deceiving. This dish looks impressive to serve. Okay, that mid-recipe picture doesn’t look that impressive. Here, go look at the nice picture on finecooking.com. But, it is actually super easy to do. Sort of like the toilet paper holder in the ladies’ room at work.
See, there’s two stalls in the ladies’ room and they don’t both have the same kind of toilet paper holder in them. One of them has a regular sort of standard looking holder with roller inside that compresses so you can take it out and replace the roll. The other stall has this weird holder that at first glance is puzzling. There’s no roller to squish and remove, so how do you open it? Here’s the thing – I’m not convinced that anyone in the office besides me and the cleaning guy have bothered to figured it out. I always find it either empty, or with a new roll all unwrapped but just sitting there on top of the old roll. And I don’t think it is just laziness, because the one with the traditional holder gets changed out regularly.
I am not one to resist a puzzle though so it didn’t take long for me to figure it out. You have to squeeze the empty cardboard roll on the left side, which releases the arm on that side. Easy, if you just try.
This recipe is even easier. At least Fine Cooking has given you instructions. If you think a gratin has to be complicated and time consuming, try this one. It’s easy, it’s delicious, and you don’t have to squeeze any cardboard tubes. Curiousity may have killed the cat but incuriousity kills the soul, man. Be curious. Make a gratin.
Adapted from Fine Cooking
FYI – this recipe doubles easily for a crowd.
1 lb asparagus, trimmed & cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1-1/2 Tbs olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan or other hard cheese
5 oz mascarpone cheese (look for it in a small
fresh grated nutmeg
1 tsp butter, cut into tiny cubes
Place a rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high. In a 2-quart gratin dish or small casserole, toss the asparagus with the onion, 1/2 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt & pepper. Broil until tender but still crisp, 5 – 6 minutes.
Mix the breadcrumbs with the grated cheese, remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and some ground pepper.
Drop the mascarpone in little spoonfuls over the asparagus. A small cookie dough scoop works well for this. Sprinkle with a little nutmeg, and top with the breadcrumb mixture. Dot with the butter cubes. Broil until bubbling around the edges and golden brown and delicious, about 2 minutes. Keep an eye on it, it browns quickly!