Monday, June 1, 2015

Prosciutto-Wrapped White Asparagus

We had some Italian neighbors over for snacks two weeks ago, and I hadn't planned on making these, but my white asparagus was going to go bad if I didn't use it soon, and I had everything else on hand. These are quite simple to make; just take a bit of time since you have to wrap each spear individually with very thin prosciutto, tucking some shavings of good Parmigiano or Grana Padano inside (and grate some over the top, too).
For our friends, we had a spread of artichoke dip with crackers/chips,  a veggie tray with a yogurt dip (Greek yogurt + fresh chives, basil, oregano, thyme, and garlic powder, dried dill, salt and pepper), buttered popcorn popped on the stove, and these White Asparagus Spears.  I don't believe the Italians do this with their white asparagus, but our friends loved it, and ate a lot of it.  I quite enjoyed these, myself.
I might peel the lower stalks of the asparagus next time.  My asparagus was skinny, so I thought I didn't need to (I did snap off the lower ends.)  One really couldn't bite through it very well, but using a fork and knife, you could easily cut it into pieces and eat it.  Italians use forks and knives for everything anyway, even pizza and fries, so it was no big deal.
Prosciutto-Wrapped White Asparagus
adapted from Jeanne Benedict

1 lb. (about 25 spears) white asparagus
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4-6 oz. proscuitto, sliced thin
4 oz. Parmesan (or Grana) cheese, some shaved and some coarsely shredded

1.  Heat oven to 400 degrees F (about 200 C).  Rinse asparagus and trim or snap about 1 inch off bottom of each spear. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place asparagus in single layer on sheet. (If your asparagus is very thick, peel the bottom half with a veggie peeler now.)  Sprinkle olive oil, lemon juice, and sea salt over asparagus and turn lightly to coat.  Cut or tear proscuitto slices into 2 even, long pieces.

2.  To wrap each spear: Place prosciutto on a flat surface and sprinkle a few pieces of shaved Parmesan on top. Lay asparagus spear on prosciutto so tip extends a couple of inches beyond the edge. Wrap prosicutto around asparagus with cheese inside. Place spear back on baking sheet and repeat for remaining ingredients. Sprinkle shredded cheese over all.

3. Bake wrapped asparagus for 5 to 8 minutes until cheese is melted and asparagus appears slightly roasted; don’t over cook as spears will shrivel.  Remove from oven and arrange on a serving platter. Serve immediately, nice and hot!  If you can't bite through the spears cleanly, use a knife and fork.

Makes about 25 spears
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