photo by Paulette Tavormina
“Use them before you lose them” is a fitting motto for these sentinels of spring. Steaming asparagus and then tossing them briefly with shallots and butter intensifies their flavor, making them sweet and buttery. Cracker meal takes the place of flour and makes the final dish just slightly custardy. Don’t be tempted to use only the tips, as the stalks are very flavorful. While we haven’t peeled the asparagus, feel free to do so if you like.
Ingredients (serves 6)
2 pounds asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
3 large shallots, minced
3 green garlic stalks or scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon salt
10 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
2 tablespoons minced fresh tarragon leaves
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded Blaak cheese or other semi-hard cheese
1/2 cup cracker meal or crushed water crackers
- Prep Time: 10m
- Cook Time: 35m
- Total Time: 45m
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a shallow 6-cup glass or ceramic baking dish.
Place the asparagus in a steamer basket set over (not in) 1 inch of water in a skillet or saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, cover, and steam until the asparagus are crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Remove the steamer basket from the pan.
In a large skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic stalks and cook, stirring frequently, until the shallots are tender, about 3 minutes. Add the asparagus, sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and cook for 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, basil, tarragon, cayenne, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Whisk in 1 1/4 cups of the cheese and the cracker meal. Fold in the asparagus mixture. Transfer to the casserole, sprinkle with the remaining 1/4 cup cheese, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned and the center is just set.
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