Ahhh…..one of my favourite times of the year when asparagus is a plenty! It was always my favourite time of the year in the cafe kitchen because it’s so versatile. Great for tarts and pies, quiches, frittatas, paninis, an extra on the breakfast menu and even savoury muffins.
I particularly love it chargrilled, it seals in the flavour, keeps its crunchiness and takes on a rich, deep green that looks gorgeous along with those nice chargrill marks. So, because this is a nice, simple vegetarian dish I decided to lug out the heavy grill plate and it was totally worth it!
The crumble is made with panko crumbs, which have an airy, and delicate texture that helps them crisp as they cook (versus normal breadcrumbs that I only use for binding mixtures like meatloaf or meat patties). I went Greek slash Italian style by adding parmesan, olives, feta, rosemary and a little bit of lemon zest and it tastes delicious.
Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead. 🙂
45 g / 1 ½ oz / 3 tablespoons butter
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
50 g / 1 ¾ oz feta
35 g / 1 ¼ oz parmesan
2 tablespoons sliced olives or 6 pitted ones, sliced up
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves
½ teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon cracked, black pepper
24 asparagus spears (of equal thickness)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of salt & black ground or cracked pepper
To finish – a few sprigs of rosemary & a few lemon wedges
Serves 4 (as a side)
- If you don’t enjoy eating any of the following; the rosemary, the olives or the feta…..simply leave them out! Just the buttery breadcrumbs with the cheese and zingy lemon zest added is still delicious!
- Also if you aren’t that keen on parmesan just switch it to your favourite cheese.
- Of course, if you haven’t got a chargriller, blanched asparagus is fine…..just as good!
- Please don’t use the powdered parmesan as it’s so fine, it won’t help in bonding the breadcrumbs together.
- Asparagus buying tips: Look for vibrant green stalks that stand up straight and are not floppy at all. Also look for freshly cut stems and tips that are tightly closed with purple highlights and not mushy and/or dark green/black. A dull green hue and wrinkles in the stems are an indication of old age and
- When buying asparagus it’s best to choose stalks of uniform thickness so they are all cooked at the same time.
STEP BY STEP
Place the butter in a small saucepan and melt it over a low heat.
Then add the breadcrumbs…..
…..and stir it all together and then turn the heat up to medium.
Stir it often until all of the breadcrumbs are a light golden brown (mine took 4 minutes). You can smell them when they are ready, they smell so good!
Place them into a small bowl and add the feta (crumbled), the parmesan (shredded/grated), the sliced olives, the roughly chopped up rosemary leaves, the lemon zest, the olive oil, the salt and the cracked, black pepper.
Then mix it all together.
Prepare the asparagus by washing it in cold water and then snapping off the stalk ends.
- They should naturally snap off where the woody bit meets the more tender part (mine snapped off around 4 cm / 1 ½ in from the ends).
Place a chargrill pan over a high heat (or your BBQ on high) and whilst it’s heating up lay the spares out on a board or plate and drizzle them with the tablespoon of olive oil.
- If you are blanching it, no need to drizzle them with olive oil, instead, fill a frying pan or large saucepan with enough water to cover the asparagus and place it over a high heat. When it’s rapidly boiling add the asparagus and blanch it until it’s just tender, so it still has a slight bite to it (mine took 5 minutes but if your asparagus is thicker it could take a minute longer, thinner a minute less).
Lay the spears out on the very hot grill…..
…..and grill them for 2 minutes on each side or until a knife pierces them easily, but not too easily mind you, you don’t want floppy asparagus! You want them tender but still to have a bite to them!
- If your spears are thin they will probably take 1 ½ minutes each side and thicker ones, 2 ½ minutes each side.
- Like every vegetable, I grill, I only turn them once otherwise, you don’t get the nice chargrill lines on them.
Once done lay them out on your serving plate either in a single row (with maybe one or two on top).
- I really just LOVE the colour of grilled asparagus, it’s a different green altogether than blanched, it’s less bright, but a deeper, richer green.
Then squeeze the lemon juice over them and also a sprinkling of salt and pepper.
Next, turn your oven grill/broiler to a medium heat so it heats up.
Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the spears (leaving the asparagus ends and tips visible, just for looks!) and gently press the crumbs down so they are compact.
- DUH! I forgot to take a pic sorry, what kinda Step by Step is this?!
Then place the crumbed asparagus under your grill/broiler until it’s a lovely golden brown.
If you like you can garnish with a few sprigs of rosemary & a few lemon wedges.
Keepin’ it fresh – Unlike blanched asparagus which colour turns from bright green to a yucky green the next day, chargrilled asparagus seems to keep its colour so this still looks and tastes great the next day. Cover well with cling wrap and keep chilled for up to 2 days. You can reheat it in the microwave, the breadcrumbs still keep their crispiness or place it in an ovenproof dish, cover with tinfoil and reheat in the oven at 150°C/300°F fan bake/convection oven or 170°C/325°F conventional oven, on bake.