Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Asparagus with Parmesan

Asparagus with Parmesan

Celebrate spring with this classic Italian dish

We know spring is here when locally grown asparagus starts popping up in our markets. So let’s bedeck ourselves with blooms and dig into a dish of Asparagus with Parmesan (aka Asparagi alla Parmigiana).

This simple, quick dish makes the perfect side or starter. You can even top it with a fried or poached egg for a light supper.

Now, don’t you just feel like hoppin’ down the bunny trail?

Asparagus with Parmesan

Recipe: Asparagus with Parmesan

How easy is it to make this dish? Just take cooked asparagus, layer it in a baking dish, and top with butter and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Pecorino Romano if you prefer a sharper flavor). You can even prepare Asparagus with Parmesan ahead of time, then warm it up (and brown the cheese) in the oven right before serving.

Ingredient quantities in this recipe are somewhat flexible. We generally use about one-third to one-half pound of asparagus per serving. But adjust to your own preferences.

This recipe takes about half an hour to prepare and serves two. You can easily double it.

Ingredients 

  • ~1 pound asparagus
  • ~1 tablespoon kosher salt for seasoning the asparagus cooking water (see Notes)
  • ~2 tablespoons butter
  • ~1 ounce grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (or Pecorino Romano) cheese

Procedure

  1. Cut off the tough butt ends of the asparagus spears (remove about 2 inches). Rinse the asparagus. Fill a large frying pan about halfway with water and bring it to a simmer. Add salt to season the water, then add the asparagus spears. Simmer until the asparagus is tender (3 to 7 minutes, depending on how thick the spears are). Drain the asparagus, then immediately plunge it into a large bowl of ice water. Let the asparagus chill for a minute or two, then remove the spears from the bowl and spread them out on a kitchen towel to dry.
  2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Position a baking rack in the upper third of the oven. Butter a baking dish (use one that’s just large enough to hold the asparagus in 2 layers – we often use smallish baking dishes that hold individual portions). Layer the cooled asparagus into the baking dish: Place one layer of asparagus spears on the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle on some grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and dot with butter. Then place another layer of asparagus spears on top of the first. Dot with the remaining butter and sprinkle on the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano. (If you’re making the dish ahead of time, just cover it with plastic wrap at this point and refrigerate it until you’re ready to bake).
  3. Place the baking dish into the preheated oven (remove any plastic wrap first). Bake until the asparagus is hot throughout and the cheese is nicely browned (10 to 15 minutes; a few minutes longer if the baking dish is cold from the refrigerator). You can run the baking dish under the broiler for a minute or two if the cheese isn’t brown enough for your liking.
  4. Portion the asparagus onto serving plates and enjoy.

Asparagus with Parmesan

 Notes

  • We suggest cooking the asparagus until it’s tender all the way through. In other words, you don’t want even the slightest “crunch” when you bite into the asparagus. The dish tastes better that way. 
  • Why plunge the cooked asparagus into ice water (Step 1)? Because doing so stops the cooking process and helps set the color of the asparagus. 
  • BTW, you can steam the asparagus instead of cooking it in simmering water. Or roast the asparagus (we haven’t tried that, but it sounds interesting).
  • If you salt the asparagus cooking water, you probably don’t need to add additional salt to the dish. Plus, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese is pretty salty. And you can always add additional salt at table.
  • Speaking of salt, we use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
  • You can use domestic Parmesan (or Romano) cheese in this dish if you prefer (the stuff you buy in wedges and grate yourself; not the grated stuff in cardboard containers). But real Parmigiano-Reggiano from Italy isn’t that much more expensive – and has better flavor. So we always splurge on that.
  • We don’t think this dish requires additional flavorings. We suppose you could add some minced shallot or garlic, but that seems like overkill.
  • Or you could add chopped prosciutto. We don’t recommend that If you’re serving this dish as a side. But if you’re serving it as a main (and this dish is so good, you’ll be tempted to), prosciutto would probably work well.
     

Asparagus with Parmesan
Cheese Rounds

“Thumbs up for the butter and cheese,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “We need to call this dish sassparagus.”

“Yeah, Parmigiano-Reggiano has attitude,” I said. “It’s the big cheese.”

“I’m so glad your recipes kick asparagus,” said Mrs K R. “Because your jokes are pretty lame.”

“So you consider them cheesy?” I said. “I thought I was pretty gouda.”

“Nah, you bleu it,” said Mrs K R.

How regrateable. 

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62 comments:

  1. Delicious! Asparagus is one of my favorites. :)

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    1. Hi Martha, this is such a simple dish, and SO good! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  2. I would like that dish, but it's not to everyone in my family's taste.

    You didn't give a warning that the "parmesan" cheese in the cardboard shaker-boxes isn't parmesan cheese, at least it never saw Parma, Italy. In fact it's extended with wood shavings, and you probably don't want to use it.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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    1. Hi Mae, that's a warning we should give! In fact, when we think "domestic" Parmesan (or Romano), we think the wedges that you grate yourself. That stuff in the green can is terrible! Thanks for the comment.

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    2. Never touched that stuff...it's nasty. I just bought a wedge of 30-month-aged Parmigiano-Reggiano...gosh, it tastes even better than the 24-month-aged one.

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    3. Hi Angie, 18- to 24-month is what we see most often. The domestic wedges are OK, but that stuff in the jar really is nasty. :-( Thanks for the comment.

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  3. Such a fantastic way to enjoy asparagus! Love the flavor and the crunchy parmesan!

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    1. Hi Kelly, isn't this nice? Excellent flavor. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. My favorite way to cook asparagus. YUM.

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    1. Hi Pam, yum indeed! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. I love this dish, John. I can't get enough asparagus this time of year, and I always have Parmesan around.

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    1. Hi Jeff, we always have Parmesan around, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Even though you can get asparagus all year round now, local asparagus is one of the most anticipated spring products to me. I love the combination of asparagus and cheese, and this version is right up my alley! Also, this reminded me that I haven't had Asparagus Mimosa forever (If you haven't tried that dish, you should deficiently consider!)

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    1. Hi Ben, been years since we've had that dish! Time to again. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  7. Parmigiano-Reggiano is the BEST! This is one of the best spring dishes, John. That cheesy crust is just amazing.

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    1. Hi Angie, we can't resist cheesy anything. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. YES!! Such a fantastic and delicious way to enjoy asparagus!!

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    1. Hi Amy, this really is good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. So easy and so very delicious! Nothing is more inspiring than the crusty brown crust you have on top. YUM!

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    1. Hi MJ, we're suckers for those crusty browned tops. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. I love when the asparagus starts to flood the market! This looks like a great way to use it!

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    1. Hi Inger, we're all for asparagus flooding the market! And soon we can look forward to berry and stone fruit season. Swoon! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. i love asparagus! so good with a poached egg too. even tho it's autumn, we can still get it at the supermarket. and our wee never smells funny :-)

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    1. Hi Sherry, asparagus and a poached egg is a wonderful combo, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.

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  12. I’m sure we’re not too far behind with our local asparagus and when I finally see them at the markets, this will be the recipe I make! So simple, it really lets the asparagus shine!
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com/

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    1. Hi Eva, this is one of the best asparagus preparations going, we think. SO good! Thanks for the comment.

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  13. YUM! I do something similiar ala Ina Garten, but think I'd like your heavier dose of Parm even more!!!

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    1. Hi Liz, we do tend to lay on the Parmesan, don't we? :-) That part definitely isn't Italian, more Italian-American. Thanks for the comment.

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  14. Replies
    1. Hi R, it's really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  15. John, abundant asparagus is one of our favorite signs of spring—and this dish looks like a delightful way to enjoy it. Another approach might be to roast the asparagus first with a little oil and salt, then dress it with the cheese and finish it in the oven. Thanks for the great recipe and inspiration!

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    1. Hi Terry, we're always in favor of roast asparagus! So your idea sound really good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  16. John, I agree, this dish doesn't need additional flavorings. Looking forward to trying it soon—I've never put parmesan on my asparagus before.

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    1. Hi Jean, you'll love this! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. OH would you look at all that melted Parmesan! Looks amazing!

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    1. Hi Ashley, it IS amazing! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Hi John and Happy Spring to you. I've never thought about parmesan and asparagus. Sounds delicious and thanks for a great idea.

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    1. Hi Lea Ann, it's a terrific combo -- SO good! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  19. It is simple sides like this that save the day and anything with Parm is welcome at our house. :)

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    1. Hi Judy, Parm is one of the best things going, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. As I said on Facebook, this is perfect timing. Fresh purple asparagus is in our market these days and it makes me so happy! Love how this looks, and I can only imagine how it tastes! Thanks, John!

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    1. Hi David, this is one of our favorite ways to prepare asparagus. So easy, so tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  21. ... and you even have the perfect vessel! GREG

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  22. Looks so pretty, I love parmesan!

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    1. Hi Natalia, we love it too! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Asparagus is one of our favorite veggies. They are in season and super sweet right now. And... just bought 2 bundles yesterday. You recipe is going to be perfect as a side to our grilled flank steak. Thanks so much for the inspiration. Wishing you and Mrs. Riff a lovely weekend. Take care

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    1. Hi Bobbi, mmm, grilled flank steak! Good stuff. And this would be nice with it. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  24. I can't get enough of asparagus in spring. As for cheese, the more the better! ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, we can't either. We've been living on it lately! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. One of my favorite sides this time of year, John! So simple, yet so delicious. Hard to go wrong with lots of butter and parmigiano-reggiano.

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    1. Hi Frank, we do load on the butter and parmigiano-reggiano, don't we? :-) Love it this way! Thanks for the comment.

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  26. This really is such a decadent side dish. The butter and parmesan compliment the asparagus like nothing else!

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    1. Hi Heidi, it really is decadent. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Love the "cheese rounds!" And this recipe! I can't get enough asparagus during the spring and can never have too many ways of preparing it. I think this will become a favorite in my house. :-) ~Valentina

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    1. Hi Valentina, :-) I'll bet this will become a favorite for you -- it's really good! Thanks for the comment.

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  28. I love this dish, one of my go to side dishes when we are grilling meats

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    1. Hi Raymund, this goes so well with grilled meat! Thanks for the comment.

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  29. Such a delicious way to enjoy asparagus. It looks very appetizing.

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    1. Hi Taruna, simple and easy -- our favorite kind of dish. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  30. What a wonderfully simple side dish! Or honestly a main for me with an egg or two on top.

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    1. Hi Laura, we kinda like this as a main, with an egg. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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