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Recipes and Stories

26 March 2016: Mastering the Make-Ahead Easter V—Asparagus alla Parmigiana

Blanched Asparagus, ready to be served with vinaigrette or made up in a classic gratin, asparagus alla parmigiana

You might think that fresh asparagus can’t be made ahead, but it can actually be prepped and blanched up to 3 days ahead and then all you have to do is serve it up cold with vinaigrette or make up in this lovely Parmigiani classic.

Asparagus alla Parmigiana (Asparagus Gratin)
Serves 6

2 pounds fresh, fatasparagus
4 tablespoons best quality salted butter, melted
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1. After you buy the asparagus, trim off about an inch of the asparagus stems and stand it in a vase or bowl of cold water for at least half an hour. Peel the tough parts of the stem as follows: half fill a large bowl or basin with cold water. Lay an asparagus on a cutting board or flat work surface with the top hanging over the edge. Holding the vegetable peeler perpendicular to the stem, peel away only the tough lower part of the skin, rotating the stalk as you go. Drop it into the basin of water and repeat until all of it is peeled. Leave the asparagus in the water until you are ready to cook it, but for no more than 2 hours.

2. Bring 2 inches of water to a boil in a large, deep skillet and prepare an ice bath (a basin of ice water). Add about a tablespoon of salt to the boiling water and slip in the asparagus. Cook 1-2 minutes, immediately drain and drop into the ice water until cold. This can be done up to 2 days ahead.

3. Half an hour before serving, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 450° F. Rub a large casserole or gratin dish with butter. Layer the asparagus with melted butter and a little Parmigiano, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese is golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

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