Hello, Spring! Asparagus season is here, and asparagi (I know that’s not really the plural, but I think it should be) are featured in many Easter dinners for those who celebrate. Really, though, any time is good to enjoy asparagus – think brunch and lunch as well as dinner. Here is a very easy way to make an asparagus crowd-pleaser using your broiler. You will end up with lightly charred stalks topped with crispy, crunchy Parmesan and golden breadcrumbs. Yum!
This recipe is adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Fast: A Better Way to Cook Great Food. I have to tell you a little secret though. I have actually set this dish ON FIRE. Yes, that’s right, on fire! The original recipe calls for a LOT of breadcrumbs in proportion to the asparagus, and I placed the dish too close to the broiler flame and all those breadcrumbs went WHOOSH! My oven is gas-powered, so I simply turned the flame off, left the unintentional asparagus flambé in the oven, and kept the oven door shut. The fire burned itself out due to lack of oxygen. (I’m not saying that’s what everyone should do in case of an oven fire, but in my case it worked! Whew!) We scraped off the burnt crumbs and ate it anyway. Hey, we were hungry. But just so this doesn’t happen to you, we’re going to use a lot less breadcrumbs in our version, and be sure to set the broiler rack at least 6″ away from the heat (the original recipe does say that but I didn’t realize how important it is! Lesson learned!).
- 1 lb. fresh asparagus, tough ends trimmed
- 2 T. olive oil
- Flaky sea salt & freshly ground pepper
- Handful of plain breadcrumbs (you can use storebought, or you can make your own by whizzing a couple of slices of bread in the blender or food processor)
- Handful of grated or shredded Parmesan
- Cooking spray
- Prep the broiler: Place the rack 6 inches from the heat source (important!) and turn the broiler to high.
- Brown one side of asparagus: Line your baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place your asparagus on the baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil, sprinkle with sea salt & ground pepper to taste, and toss with your hands to coat. Spread out in a single layer. Broil until lightly browned on the top side, 4-5 minutes.
- Add crumbs and cheese: Once one side of the asparagus is nicely browned, turn them over, make into a single layer again but with the stalks close to one another, then sprinkle lightly with the breadcrumbs, and next with the Parmesan. (I haven't given exact measurements because it depends on how much asparagus you have. You should still be able to see the asparagus through the crumbs and cheese. Don't pile it on - see cautionary tale above.) Spray the top lightly with cooking spray for extra crispiness.
- Finish browning: Turn on your oven light and get ready to watch BTV (that's Broiler TV)!. Broil an additional 1-2 minutes while watching through the oven window. You really want to watch it to make sure it doesn't burn or catch fire. Once the topping is golden and crisp, remove from oven. Serve hot or warm. Enjoy!!