Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Roasted Asparagus with Basil Gremolata

During the spring months, I eat a lot of asparagus. Seeing that it's not even May, I figured I better come up with some new ways of preparing it so my asparagus adoration doesn't fizzle out by June.

Now, gremolata is the traditional topping for osso buco and consists of a lemon zest, parsley, and garlic mixture. Forgive my own loose interpretation but I really like the word "gremolata" and besides, my recipe has to be sort of a distant cousin at least, right?

This is one of those things that just works. The shallots, toasted bread crumbs, and lemony basil brightness really add layers of flavor to the already delicious roasted asparagus. Initially I thought I had too much gremolata topping for the amount of asparagus I roasted but it's so tasty, the amount seemed just right to me.

To serve 4 as a side:
  • 1 bunch asparagus, ends snapped off
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 small lemon
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 4 large basil leaves, chopped
  • About a cup of crustless, day-old bread pieces (I used the bread from the perfect rustic bread recipe)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with a tablespoon of the olive oil, a large pinch of salt, and some freshly ground black pepper. Place in the oven on the center rack, and roast for 15-20 minutes, giving the asparagus a toss once or twice while they are cooking.

Meanwhile, take the bread pieces and put them in a blender or food processor and give them a few whirls until they turn into coarse, small crumbs. Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat and add the shallots, sauteing until they are starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Add the bread, and stirring constantly, cook until the bread turns golden and toasts a bit. Remove from the heat and place in a bowl. Add the basil and the zest from the whole lemon to it. Season to taste with salt and stir together thoroughly.

When the asparagus is ready, place it in a serving dish and squeeze the juice from half a lemon over it. Spoon the gremolata over the top and serve.

1 comment:

Robert said...

Mmmmm...Basil Gremolata.