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Stress Inspired Roast Asparagus with Garlic-Butter Breadcrumbs & Toasted Almonds

I may have mentioned I have been quite busy. It’s the start of the Holidays, who’s not? Right? Still, allow me some space to grumble will ya…

You see yesterday I was in the kitchen all day. And by all day I mean ALL day. My day started at 7 am roasting pumpkin for the FoodBuzz Project Food Blog baking challenge. By 9 am I was grating and melting chocolate, slicing and dicing carrots, experimenting with different toasting times of certain grains, nuts, and seeds. Trying to decide between parsley and marjoram. Cayenne or no cayenne! It was exhausting.

Okay, okay… I can hear you all mumbling to yourselves “just what the heck is he making?” But sorry, that shall remain my private business until later this week.

Once I finally decided that cinnamon was the missing ingredient. It was 4 pm. The light was fading and I knew the photo aspect of this challenge had to be put off for another day.

Then it struck me. It’s only 48 hours until Thanksgiving. While I am not in charge of the whole meal I am in charge of 4 things. Parmesan Mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes, Herb Roasted Carrots & Parsnips, Green Beans with Lemon-Butter Breadcrumbs & Toasted Almonds, and a Pear & Almond Tart. That’s still a lot of cooking with not a lot of time remaining. So I threw myself into 3 more hours of cooking…

breadcrumbsAfter all that cooking and clock watching I was feeling a bit panicky and grumpy and knew it was time to get out of the kitchen. That’s when Ken walked in and asked, “What’s for dinner?”

Rather than strangle him with kitchen twine. I calmly set down the chef’s knife in my hand and assessed the situation. To be fair it was 7 pm. I can see how he might be getting hungry. But on the other hand, it was 7 pm and I had been cooking for 12 hours non-stop.

Now the test of a good relationship is compromised. I could have said let’s go out to dinner. But it’s Tuesday night. Glee is on. We don’t make compromises about Glee. He might have suggested take-out or order-in. But he knows I don’t compromise my palate to bad Chinese food. At least when anyone is watching…

So I manned up (to borrow a particularly annoying current pop culture phrase) and looked around the kitchen. The last 3 hours of my cooking day was spent concentrating on Thanksgiving mis en place rather than actual cooking. So there was no actual food on my counters.

I had a water-filled bowl of peeled and cubed Yukon gold potatoes. Raw and useless to me tonight. I had carrots and parsnips, washed and prepped for roasting. But I barely had enough for Thanksgiving so I could not spare a root. There was almond tart dough chilling on the refrigerator. But almond paste and butter does not a dinner make.

I looked around one more time. There were garlic butter-breadcrumbs and toasted almonds cooling on a plate, they seemed edible. But I had not yet prepped and blanched the green beans they were to accompany. That’s when the idea of quieting Ken’s grumbling tummy by spearing him with the turkey skewers popped into my head again.

But wait what was that I said? Spear? I did have some nice asparagus spears in the fridge. So in a blaze of genius, I roasted those spears up in a hot oven and topped them with some of the garlicky breadcrumbs. I had more than enough for turkey day and beyond.

After that, it was no big deal to pan sear a piece of salmon to lay on top that asparagus. The only thing my “brain to table in 12 minutes meal” needed was a quick spritz of lemon juice.

Talk about Gleeful!

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic-Butter Breadcrumbs & Toasted Almonds

serves 6 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • roast asparagus1⁄2 c sliced or slivered almonds
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 4 clv garlic, peeled and minced
  • 1 c panko style breadcrumbs
  • coarse sea salt, as needed
  • 1 1⁄2 lb asparagus
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1⁄4 t coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1⁄4 c Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • 1⁄4 c lemon juice
  • 1 lemon cut into wedges as garnish, optional
  • 1 T parsley, minced as garnish, optional

Place the almonds in a heavy, dry skillet set over medium heat. Toast stirring often until golden brown. Let them cool on a plate in a single layer, until serving time.

In a small saucepan set over medium heat melt butter. Add half of the minced garlic and cook stirring often until fragrant and just beginning to color. Add the panko and toast, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes until golden brown and crisp. remove from the heat and stir in the lemon zest and a pinch of salt. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Rinse clean the asparagus and trim the tough ends off and discard.

In a foil-covered roasting pan lay the asparagus spears out in as close to a single layer as possible. Drizzle the olive oil over the spears, roll the asparagus back and forth until they are all covered with a thin layer of olive oil. Sprinkle with the remaining minced garlic, salt, and pepper. Roll the asparagus around once more to coat evenly.

Place pan in the preheated oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on how thick your asparagus spears are. The tips should be well-browned, and the spears tender when pierced with a fork.

Transfers the warm asparagus to a serving tray. Toss with the grated Parmesan and lemon juice, then top with the reserved almonds and breadcrumbs. Serve topped with parsley and with lemon wedges on the side, optional.

SERIOUS FUN FOOD

Greg Henry

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