Recipe—Asparagus Ham Rolls

Asparagus Ham Rolls

This was a side dish I recently made for Sunday brunch. It was easy, delicious, and made for a great presentation. Ham and asparagus has always been a classic combination and when you have the nice mild bite of Dijon mustard along with a creamy cheese sauce it’s suddenly even a little more fabulous. Be sure to bookmark this recipe if you are like me and always looking for brunch ideas. It is sure to be a great addition to any menu. Perhaps a Father’s Day brunch item?

Note: I prepared the asparagus rolls the night before and refrigerated them ahead of time. Then the morning of I just had to put together the sauce and bake it. One less thing to be dealing with in the morning.

INGREDIENTS
24 asparagus spears
8 slices deli ham
dijon mustard
3 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 c milk
salt and pepper
1 c cheddar cheese, shredded
3 green onions, thinly sliced
paprika

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Trim off approximately 1″ from the cut ends of the asparagus.
  • Steam the asparagus for approximately 3 minutes or until crisp tender.
  • Season the asparagus with salt and pepper.
  • Spread a tad of the Dijon mustard on one side of each slice of ham.
  • Place 3 spears of asparagus on each slice of ham and roll up. As you finish each one place them seam side down in a greased baking dish.
  • Once you have prepared all the rolls get started on the sauce by melting the butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat.
  • Mix in flour until well combined.
  • Slowly whisk in milk, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil.
  • Cook for 2 minutes until it begins to thicken.
  • Stir in the cheese and green onions until cheese melts.
  • Pour the sauce over the asparagus rolls and sprinkle with a dash of paprika.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and serve.

Recipe adapted from a Taste of Home.

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Recipe—Asparagus Gruyére Tart

Since asparagus is plentiful at the market right now I thought I would post a simple, yet elegant asparagus recipe that will excite your palate. The final product looks impressive and tastes just as good. This asparagus tart is perfect as an appetizer or a side dish with brunch. You really can’t go wrong serving it warm or cold. It is very easy to make and requires hardly any prep time at all. Enjoy!

INGREDIENTS
1/4 c flour, for work surface
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
2 c Gruyére cheese, shredded
1 bundle thin asparagus spears
olive oil
lemon pepper
sea salt

STEPS

  • Preheat oven to 400º.
  • On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16-by-10-inch rectangle and trim uneven edges.
  • Carefully move the pastry to a baking sheet.
  • Using a knife, lightly score pastry dough 1 inch in from the edges to give it a border. This is identifies the boundary you will put your cheese and asparagus in.
  • Using a fork, poke the dough inside the rectangle at 1/2-inch intervals.
  • Bake pastry until golden, about 15 minutes.
  • While the pastry is baking, trim the bottoms of the asparagus spears to fit crosswise inside the tart shell.
  • In a large bowl toss the asparagus with olive oil, lemon pepper, and salt.
  • Remove pastry shell from oven. (If your pastry swells up lay a clean kitchen towel over the top and gently press down until it is about a 1/2” tall.)
  • Evenly sprinkle with the shredded Gruyére.
  • Arrange the asparagus in a single layer over Gruyére, alternating ends and tips.
  • Bake until spears are tender, approximately 15–20 minutes.
  • Allow to cool and then cut into squares using a pizza cutter.

For some great information about asparagus check out a previous post of mine here: https://divadicucina.wordpress.com/2012/03/13/kitchen-tip-asparagus/

Kitchen Tip—Asparagus

You know spring is right around the corner once your grocer’s produce aisle is filled with fresh asparagus. Asparagus is readily available from March–June every year. Since this is the time of year that asparagus is at its peak I thought I would give you some tips on how to select it, as well as some cooking methods to try. Next time you head down to your local market be sure to pick up some of this delicious vegetable.

Where does asparagus come from?
According to the California Asparagus Commission, California produces close to 70% of the United State’s asparagus supply. Together Washington and Michigan grow approximately 30% while small quantities are also grown in a few other states. Asparagus grows very quickly. On a warm California day, asparagus can grow as much as 7” in a day.

How to select good asparagus:
When picking out asparagus, look for long, blemish-free, bright green spears with closed, compact tips, and no flowering. Try to find bunches with similar sized spears. Spears of a similar size will cook at a more even rate. Select a size, which best suits your cooking method. Thicker spears are perfect for throwing on the barbie or roasting in the oven. Thinner spears are great when added to stir fry or an omelet. Tenderness relates to color, not size as one might think. You may find that thicker stalks can be woody, so peel the skin at the base to remove the outer layer.

How to store asparagus:
Keep fresh asparagus cool and moist until you intend to use it. Asparagus may be stored for a longer period of time by placing the bundled stalk upright in a dish with enough water to keep the stalks moist (about an inch). You can also wrap the cut ends in a wet paper towel, then cover the paper towel with plastic wrap and refrigerate. If the tips are slightly wilted, freshen them up by soaking them in ice water for 15 minutes before preparing.

Cooking Methods:
There are several ways to prepare asparagus steam, grill, sauté, you name it! You can even pickle asparagus and store it for several years. My favorite way to eat asparagus is to marinate it in Italian dressing and grilling it. Here are a few other recommended cooking methods

Note: Cooking times may vary. Thinner spears require less cooking time while thicker spears may take a little longer.

  • To boil, place whole trimmed asparagus in a large skillet with 1 1/2 inches of water. Bring to boil. Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 3–5 minutes.
  • To steam, place asparagus on a steamer rack in a large saucepan over rapidly boiling water. Cover saucepan and steam for 6–8 minutes.
  • To microwave, arrange asparagus in a microwave safe dish. Cover dish with plastic wrap, turning back one corner to vent steam. Microwave on high for 3–6 minutes. Let stand 3–5 minutes.
  • To stir-fry, cut asparagus spears in to 2 inch diagonal slices, keeping tips whole. In a large skillet, heat 1 to 2 tbsp of vegetable oil. Add asparagus pieces and stir-fry for 5–7 minutes.
  • To grill, marinade extra large asparagus in Italian dressing for at least 30 minutes. Place directly on the grill turning several times and grill until brown and tender, about 8–10 minutes. I then like to toss the asparagus in the Italian dressing before serving to soak up some extra flavor.
  • To roast, toss extra large asparagus spears with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic. Preheat oven to 375º. Arrange on cooking sheet and place in pre-heated oven for 6–8 minutes.

Nutritional Info:
Asparagus is low in calories and sodium. It’s a great source of vitamins B6, A, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium and zinc, dietary fiber, protein, folic acid, iron, potassium, and much more.

What’s your favorite way to eat asparagus?