Cheesy Baked Asparagus

The first time I had Asparagus was at a restaurant, served as a side to an overcooked steak, its bland taste and squishy texture did not appeal to me. Since asparagus is not readily available in Pakistan, I never bothered experimenting with it.

Germans on the other hand take their asparagus very seriously. Supermarkets, farmers markets and seasonal kiosks sell green and white asparagus from mid-April to end of June, a harvest period aptly dubbed as Spargelzeit in Germany. Asparagus season is celebrated with passion and with time has become a culinary status symbol here. Germans prefer the white variety over green and its hard to miss steamed/boiled Spargel with a generous amount of Hollandaise sauce pop-up on almost every restaurant menu in the country.

This craze for asparagus got me curious and I decided to give this celebrated vegetable another chance. I asked my husband to bring me a bunch of skinny green asparagus and after pouring over hundreds of asparagus recipes and videos, I decided to bake them. Seasoned with a handful of ingredients and cooked right, I finally understood why the Germans loved this vegetable so much. Asparagus are delicious, have a very distinct taste with a slight earthy flavour.

Asparagus can be cooked in so many ways, steamed, boiled, pan-fried, baked, etc. I prefer baking them on a sheet pan lined with aluminium for easy clean up. Baked asparagus make a wonderful side to steaks, roasts, pastas, and the like. I like adding cheese for extra flavor but they taste equally good on their own.

To prepare asparagus, snap the woody ends and they’ll easily break away or simply cut off 1 inch off the root end leaving the asparagus tips intact. Then using a vegetable peeler, slightly peel of the outer skin of your asparagus, all the time being careful the tips do not break.

Ingredients:

  • Asparagus 500g; woody ends removed
  • Olive Oil 2 tbsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Garlic 2 cloves; minced
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese; 2 tbsp
  • Gouda or Mozzarella Cheese Slices 4-5

Method:

Preheat oven to 200℃. Place prepared asparagus in a shallow dish. Drizzle olive oil, salt, pepper, minced garlic and Parmesan over asparagus and toss asparagus to coat evenly. Place asparagus on an aluminium lined pan sheet in a single layer. Place cheese slices over the asparagus stalks. Bake asparagus in the oven for around 15 minutes. Switch on the top grill and bake for another 5 minutes or until cheese is golden. Remove asparagus to a serving dish and serve immediately.

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