Roasted Mozzarella Asparagus is a cheesy and garlicky side dish with gooey, melted cheese and buttery, crunchy crumb topping.
Asparagus is my favourite vegetable! Wait, so are beets. Oh, and I love parsnips too. And cabbage, bean sprouts, butternut squash zucchini, potatoes, turnip, swiss chard, leeks, carrots, corn, peas, and eggplant. Hmmm… that got a little out of hand. But, asparagus is in my top 10 – will that suffice? I probably don’t eat as many vegetables as I should, but I do love them!
I can still remember when I began to experiment with asparagus. I overcooked it almost every single time, and it wasn’t by accident. It took me years of practice and restraint to stop overcooking things. Of course, I can’t speak for all Newfoundlanders, but my mom would cook things until they were “done.” That’s what she would say all of the time.
It went like this: “Mom, when do I add the potatoes to the soup?” Her response, “When the beef is cooked.” So, in essence, she would add the potatoes to her vegetable beef soup when the beef was already cooked. If the potatoes needed twenty five minutes to cook, the beef fell victim to an extra twenty five minutes of cook time. You see what I’m getting at?
But, that was the way it was. And, that was the way I grew up eating food. Now, many will scoff at the fact that my mom would overcook certain foods, but even if that was indeed the case, her food was always delicious. Needless to say though, it was not a practice I was about to keep for long once I began cooking on my own.
When I was finally able to cook asparagus until it was just tender and heated all the way through, yet the spears were still slightly firm, that’s when I actually began to love asparagus. Before, it was just tolerated. Maybe you know this already and maybe you don’t, but I’ll put it out there anyway. Asparagus doesn’t need to be cooked. You can eat it raw.
If you’re going to indulge in raw asparagus, be sure to wash it really well. If I plan to add asparagus to a salad and want it to be raw, I will always blanch it first. Simply bring water to a full boil. Add a pinch or two of salt and add the asparagus – chopped or whole – to the pot and stir. Allow the asparagus to stay in the water for just a minute.
Remove the asparagus from the pot and transfer it immediately to ice water. This will stop the cooking process. Don’t worry, the asparagus will not cook in one minute. But, it will be clean, slightly seasoned, and any bacteria on the skin will have been removed. Also, the colour will intensify and you’ll be left with a vibrant green and still crunchy asparagus.
There will be no need for blanching the asparagus for this particular recipe. Just simply wash the asparagus and pat it dry. Patting it dry will help the olive oil mixture stick better. Any time you are roasting vegetables at a high temperature, always try to get rid of as much water as possible beforehand. If a vegetable is dripping with water, the high temperature will steam the vegetable and it will affect the texture.
Roasted Mozzarella Asparagus is a wonderful side dish that I’m sure everyone will love – maybe even those of us who don’t like asparagus. Because, why? Because, cheese makes everything better! I think it would be great to bring the roasting pan to the table as is. It makes a great presentation!
Place a flat spatula beside the pan or a pair of tongs. Allow your family to plate up a portion and watch them ooh and aw over that gooey, stringy melted mozzarella!
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Roasted Mozzarella Asparagus
- 1 pounds asparagus, (about one large bunch) trimmed, washed, and patted dry
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely minced
- 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 whole mozzarella ball, thinly sliced
- Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
- Place the prepared asparagus on the baking sheet.
- Whisk together the olive oil, garlic, onion flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour over the asparagus.
- Toss the asparagus with the oil mixture to coat and then spread the asparagus out into a single layer.
- Roast for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the panko breadcrumbs and stir to coat. Continue to stir to prevent burning until the panko has absorbed the butter and has been toasted to a deep, golden brown. Remove from heat and transfer to a glass bowl. Set aside.
- Remove the asparagus and lay the thinly sliced mozzarella on top. Return to the oven for 3-5 more minutes – until the cheese is melted.
- Remove from oven. Top with the panko crumbs and serve immediately.
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