Sunday, March 28, 2010

Asparagus on Toast, Take Two

Asparagus and toast must be made for each other, because I can't keep them apart!

We ate them together a few weeks ago, when they rubbed their spiny little elbows with some eggs and feta. Friday night was a little different, maybe a bit more of a pure pairing. Asparagus and leeks on toast, with cheese. And it was divine!

Apologies first to my husband - our toast was walnut toast. The other rustic bread loaves at the store were all white, no good multigrain options, so I brought home walnut. I love the blue-tinted, nutty bread, but my husband is no walnut fan (it may or may not make his lip swell ... or is that ibuprofen??). But he was a good sport and tried it, and I appreciate him for that. No more walnut bread (or cakes or cookies) in this house anytime soon.

This recipe came from Vegetarian Suppers From Deborah Madison's Kitchen. I have had mixed luck with the recipes in this book. The black beans and yellow rice are tasty, though my red onion garnish never pickled to the same intense pink as Deborah Madison's. And the wild rice pancake over veggie ragout - ohhh it was not good. I will forever have nightmares of red cabbage. I suppose it is just not my thing, but I found out the hard way. So I am slowly learning to appreciate this book, especially the easier, less intensive recipes. This was one of those, and it was a great success. I did make some modifications, outlined below.

Asparagus & Leeks on Cheese Toast
Adapted from Deborah Madison

One bunch asparagus, cleaned and trimmed, chopped into 2-inch long pieces
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon butter (separate)
Two leeks, cleaned well and thinly sliced (white parts only)
Four bulbs of green garlic, cleaned well and thinly sliced (don't include the greens)
1 cup veggie broth
Splash of fresh lemon juice
Four slices of crusty, rustic bread of choice
Thinly sliced white cheese - I used a white cheddar but you could use gruyere, fontina, etc

Heat one tablespoon butter in a deep saute pan over medium heat. Add the leeks and green garlic, stirring to coat with the butter, and cook for about three minutes. Add 1/2 cup broth and cover, cooking for about 5 minutes. Adjust the heat down to medium-low if the leeks begin to brown. Add the asparagus, another 1/2 cup broth, and S&P to taste. Continue to cook for about 6 minutes, until the asparagus is tender but not mushy (if spears are thick, you can go a little longer, but take care not to over-cook the asparagus).

While the asparagus and leeks are cooking, gently toast the bread, then add cheese to each slice and broil or heat in a toaster oven just until the cheese is melted. [Don't do what I did and let these go for a bit too long under the broiler - a smoky, burned disaster! I had to start over in the toaster oven with a second batch of cheese toast. I am still learning how to use a functioning broiler.]

To finish the asparagus, raise the heat to medium-high to thicken a bit. Add lemon juice and additional S&P if needed, plus the last teaspoon of butter. Stir and let cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. When done, spoon evenly over the cheese toast and enjoy!

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