Friday, 12 June 2015

Asparagus Baked in a Light Cheese Sauce

The English asparagus season is well under way and the local green grocers have piles of green and purple bundles of spears, tied together with string, just waiting to be lightly steamed and dipped in butter.

But I had other plans for mine. I wanted to bake these spears in a light cheese sauce and serve with a couple of slices of toasted ciabatta as a starter.

Recipe - serves 2

1 large bundle of fresh asparagus (usually about 20 spears in a bundle)
50g butter
50g 00 grade flour
400ml milk - full or half fat but not skimmed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g strong mature cheddar - grated

slices of ciabatta - toasted and buttered - I allowed 2 per person

pre heat oven 200C /gas 6

First prepare your asparagus. Hold towards the end of the stalk and give a quick snap to break off the end. It will automatically snap where the woody part ends.

Pop the spears into a bowl of cold water to wash off any sandy muddy grit still held in the tips.

Now make up your sauce - I used 00 grade flour for all my white sauces - it makes for a lighter texture and is easier to whisk in.

Gently melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan, over a medium heat.

Add the flour and whisk together - removing any lumps.

keeping it over a low heat, slowly add your milk, whisking all the time to avoid lumps. Cook it gently for 2-3 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

Add your Parmesan, mustard and seasoning - whisk it all together and then set aside for a few minutes.

Now you just need to blanch you asparagus. Pop it into boiling water for about a minute and then quickly refresh in cold water. Drain and arrange them in your oven dish.

Pour your sauce over the spears and top with the grated cheddar.

Pop in the oven and cook for about 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned the dish golden brown.

Although I served this dish as a starter it's also perfect as a simple supper dish or served as a side dish for boiled ham (especially smoked ham). If you want to add a little something to this dish a few bits of bacon or some slice mushrooms work really well along with fresh thyme leaves.

Have a great weekend
Love Lizx

 Baked Asparagus