Asparagus

The wait was worth it! Five years ago, we planted asparagus in our garden and this year, we are blessed with a bounty worthy of feeding multitudes. It is like mushrooms … you go out the following morning after harvesting the day before and there it is again, like magic. I never get tired of it and am stocking my freezer with lusciously blanched spears for the days that come when the season is over. Luckily in the supermarket, the season is much longer since it comes to us from areas that allow the growing season to stretch. But as we get into more and more heat, the local harvest abruptly stops.

If you don’t pick it daily from your own garden and instead pick it up at the grocery store, you have loads of opportunities to continue serving it. And the possibilities are endless. Simple roasting with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper is my preference. However, to enhance the presentation when company arrives, use this recipe. It’s quick, easy, and even those who swear they don’t like asparagus will love it. That’s what happened this past weekend when three avowed asparagus haters had numerous helpings!

Asparagus Roll Ups

Yield: 12 roll ups

24 spears fresh asparagus, trimmed to equal lengths that are slightly longer than the sandwich bread

24 slices thin sandwich bread, crusts removed (make croutons with the crusts!)    

1 (8-ounce) container spreadable cream cheese, room temperature

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons chopped purple onion

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese 

Fill the bottom of a double boiler with a steamer basket with water and bring to a boil. Place the asparagus in the steamer basket and place over the boiling water. Cover and steam for 7 minutes. 

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside. With a rolling pin, flatten the slices of sandwich bread and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, bacon, onions, black pepper and cayenne. Evenly spread over one side of the bread slices.  

Remove the asparagus spears from the double boiler and run cold water through the steamer basket to stop the cooking process. Drain well on paper towels. Place 2 asparagus spears in the middle of each bread slice. pull the sides together and place seam side down on the baking sheet. Brush the tops with the melted butter and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve.

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