Asparagus, when Company’s Coming

I love vegetables but I’m not big on preparing them. Usually I steam them and dress with good-quality butter, salt and pepper, and I’m done. Or I blanch them, then sauté quickly. Or I toss them in olive oil and roast. I’m happy with such simple treatments because the natural vegetable flavors shine through and besides, it’s almost no work.

But when company is coming, I feel the need to do a little more. Not much, but a little something extra to make the vegetables seem company-worthy. In the spring, when asparagus is in season, I turn to Baked Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Breadcrumbs. It’s hardly more effort than simple roasting, but the topping looks just a bit fancier. Also, I happen to have a colorful, rectangular asparagus-patterned platter that’s the perfect size and shape for this recipe.

For two additional simple recipes for asparagus, one hot and one cold, check out Lori’s asparagus post.

To get the recipe and shopping list on your smartphone (iPhone, BlackBerry, Android device) or PC, click here.

Baked Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Breadcrumbs
Makes 6 servings

1-1/2 pounds jumbo or extra-large California asparagus, trimmed
2-1/2 tablespoons butter, melted, divided
2 ounces fresh white goat cheese, crumbled into bits (about ½ cup)
½ cup fresh, white breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat asparagus spears with 1 1/2 tablespoons of the melted butter, then salt lightly. Arrange on a baking sheet in one layer. Evenly distribute cheese bits over asparagus, then sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Drizzle remaining 1 tablespoon melted butter over breadcrumbs. Bake until asparagus is tender-crisp and the breadcrumbs are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. To test for doneness, poke the tip of a paring knife into the thickest stalk. Knife should slide in without resistance. Using a spatula, gently slide the asparagus spears onto a serving platter, being careful not to disturb the topping.

Note: Try to purchase asparagus of the same thickness for even cooking. For tips on selecting and prepping asparagus, watch this video.

Recipe adapted from California Asparagus Commission.

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Posted: Apr 27th by Sandy_Hu