Grilled Asparagus with Herbed Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

21 05 2009

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The weather is starting to warm up and the season for outdoor entertaining has begun.  Grilling is a popular way to cook main courses such as chicken, burgers or steaks but you can make appetizers on the grill as well.  These asparagus spears wrapped in goat cheese and prosciutto make an elegant starter that will impress your guests.  There are a number of steps but they are very straightforward. The wrapped asparagus spears can be prepared in advance and only need a couple of minutes on the BBQ.

Use the fattest asparagus spears you can find – the pencil-thin ones won’t work for this dish.  Prosciutto is an Italian cured ham that is available in many supermarkets. Ask at the deli counter and make sure they slice it very thinly.  You can substitute Spanish serrano or other cured hams.  For the cheese, you can use a soft goat cheese, cream cheese or mascarpone.  Each one has a slightly different flavour but all will be delicious. The asparagus spears can also be cooked on an indoor grill if you don’t have access to an outdoor BBQ.

Helpful tip: if you want to zest a lemon for garnish, be sure to zest it before cutting the lemon open to juice it. To get more juice from your lemon, roll it on the counter, pressing down gently on the lemon as you roll. This helps break down the inside a bit so it’s easier to extract the juice.

Grilled Asparagus with Herbed Goat Cheese and Prosciutto

Makes 10 asparagus spears

  • 10 fat asparagus spears
  • 10 slices cured ham such as prosciutto or serrano, sliced very thinly
  • Lemon zest for garnish (optional)

Herbed Cheese:

  • 3 Tablespoons (about 2-1/2 oz) soft cheese such as goat cheese, cream cheese or mascarpone – at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme 
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • A dash of salt and pepper

Lemon-Oil:

  • 1 Tablespooon fresh lemon juice
  • 3 Tablespoon neutral oil such as canola or safflower
  • 1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard

To prepare asparagus:

  1. Trim any woody ends and discard.  Prepare a large bowl of ice water and set aside.  In a large saucepan, add enough water to just cover asparagus and bring to a boil.  Cook asparagus for about 2-1/2 to 3 minutes, until it is just tender.  
  2. Drain and plunge immediately into the ice water to halt cooking.  Let asparagus cool completely, drain and pat dry.

To make herbed cheese:

  1. Spoon room-temperature goat, cream cheese or mascarpone cheese into a small bowl.  Add chive, thyme, lemon juice salt and pepper.  Use a fork to mix herbs into cheese until thoroughly combined.  Cheese can be made in advance and refrigerated until use.  Bring back to room temperature before using.

To prepare lemon oil:

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, oil and mustard until combined.

Putting it all together:

  1. Lay out prosciutto slices in a single layer.  Scoop a small amount of herbed cheese (about 3/4 teaspoon) and spread it in a thin layer on a prosciutto slice as though buttering a piece of bread.  Repeat for all slices.  
  2. Wrap each slice of prosciutto around an asparagus spear, starting at the bottom of the spear.  Make sure the cheese side is against the asparagus – it will act like ‘glue’ to help the prosciutto stick.  Appetizers may be prepared to this point and refrigerated until ready to use.
  3. Prepare grill or light barbeque.  Brush each wrapped asparagus spear with the lemon-oil and grill until the prosciutto begins to get crispy around the edges, about 2 minutes.  Turn over with tongs and grill for another 2 minutes.
  4. Arrange on a platter and garnish with lemon zest if desired.  They are meant to be eaten as finger food but they can be plated and eaten with a fork if you’d prefer.

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Crustless Asparagus Quiche

9 05 2009

egg being beaten up

Quiche is a savory pie that makes a great dish for breakfast or brunch.  A classic French dish, quiche is made from a rich custard in a pastry shell.  However, leaving out the crust simplifies the process – just mix the ingredients together, pour into a pie plate and bake.  It’s very versatile so you can add what you have on hand such as leftover roasted peppers, some grated cheese or a bit of cooked ham.  Because it’s asparagus season, I decided to use it for this easy and quick version of a classic quiche. 

Click here to read my Suite 101 recipe for Crustless Asparagus Quiche.

Easy Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Easy Crustless Asparagus Quiche

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!





Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

6 05 2009

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As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been working on some new spring recipes with all the great local produce I’ve been getting at the market.  Asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables and during its brief season each spring I go a bit nuts and eat it almost every day.  Sometimes I simply steam it and serve with a squeeze of lemon and a little butter.  Other times I roast it with a bit of olive oil or a citrus vinaigrette. This lasagna takes roasted asparagus to a whole new level.  It’s a rich and indulgent vegetarian dish that will even appeal to the most die-hard carnivores.

Click here to check out the recipe on Suite101.com: Roasted Asparagus Lasagna

Bon Appétit and Enjoy!

 

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna with Salad

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna with Salad





Fresh and Simple Inspiration – June 17th, 2008

17 06 2008

As we enjoy the last few days of spring,  here are a few simple ideas you can try with what’s in season right now:

Why don’t you…

-Serve fresh cut-up strawberries mixed with a little sugar (a tablespoon or so) over your favourite ice cream?

-Slice some strawberries to top your favourite cereal?

-Toss some fresh asparagus (trim off woody ends) with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil and roast in the oven (@ 425 degrees for approximately 15 minutes)?  To serve, finish with some salt and pepper and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

-Stir-fry some cut up asparagus in a little bit of oil, a dash of soy sauce, some minced garlic and a spoonful of sesame oil?  Sprinkle with some toasted sesame seeds and serve with your favourite grilled teriyaki meats and some rice.

-Enjoy a nice crisp glass of champagne or sparkling wine with a bowl of fresh ripe strawberries?   It’s a classic pairing.

-Slice some fresh basil leaves into slivers and toss with chunks of fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of good quality balsamic vinegar?  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

 Bon Appetit & Enjoy!





Asparagus Soup

1 06 2008

Asparagus is without a doubt one of my favourite vegetables.  So you can imagine how pleased I am that we’re in the heart of asparagus season and locally grown stalks are available everywhere.   They make an excellent accompaniment to grilled or roasted meats, as the basis for a salad or stir fry or are delicious just on their own!  To get the asparagus season started, here is a simple asparagus soup that makes a nice lunch with a light sandwich or is great way to begin a spring-inspired dinner.

Asparagus Soup

Makes four 1-cup servings

(Can be made VEGETARIAN)

  • 1 Tablespoon neutral oil, such as safflower or canola
  • 3 leeks
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch (approx. 12 oz or 2 cups chopped) asparagus, woody ends discarded and cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 medium russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ dice
  • 3 cups chicken OR vegetable stock (homemade or canned, try to use low-sodium stock)
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half (see ‘Helpful Tips’ at the bottom for further suggestions)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Place leeks on a cutting board.  Cut off and discard green leaves and root ends, leaving just the white bulbs.  Slice the bulbs lengthwise down the middle.  Rinse well under running water, making sure to clean out all the layers.  Return to cutting board and lay the flat side down.  Cut into ‘rings’, approximately 3/4″ thick.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat oil on medium-high.  Add leeks and garlic and saute until the leeks are soft and just begining to brown, approximately 4 minutes (be careful they don’t start to burn!)
  3. Add asparagus pieces, potato and stock to pot.  Cover and simmer on medium heat until asparagus and potatoes are tender, approximately 15 minutes.
  4. Once vegetables are tender, remove from heat and reserve a few of the tips for garnish.  Carefully puree vegetable mixture with an immersable hand blender or in a blender until smooth.
  5. Return puree to saucpan and add half-and-half.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish servings with reserved asparagus tips.

Helpful Tips:

  • The soup can be made in advance and re-heated for service, making an excellent starter course for a spring dinner party
  • Be careful not to overcook the asparagus – it will start to become an unappetizing colour!
  • When pureeing soup, be careful not to fill the blender too full.  You may have to puree the soup in batches
  • As a healthier alternative, you can substitute low-fat canned evaporated milk for the half-and-half.  It won’t be quite as good though!  Or, you could make it extra decadent by using whipping cream (35%) to produce a rich, silky soup.

Asparagus Soup