Asparagus Gratin

About 10 years ago I established an asparagus bed in my garden. Each year in late April through June I get a handful of asparagus out of the garden everyday. By the end of each week, I have 2-3 pounds in the refrigerator. Since the harvest time is so short, I freeze some for later, but we eat a lot of it while in season. Our standby is to drizzle with melted butter and sprinkle with our favorite seasoning blends and carmelize it on the grill or in the oven.

This weekend, I decided I needed something with a bit more substance as the weather was unseasonably cold and my original plan of grilling was rained out. Having cream on hand, and dibs and dabs of cheese left from making homemade pizza few nights before, I pulled together this quick gratin at the last minute.

This is a great side with any roasted meat, or as a vegetarian main dish. Although it assembles in under 10 minutes, It can easily be made earlier in the day and stored covered and refrigerated until time to bake.

Ingredients

2 pounds Asparagus, trimmed
1/2 Lemon, juiced
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
6 cloves of Garlic, thinly sliced
1/2 cup Heavy Cream
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Black pepper
1 cup blended Italian cheeses, such as Pecorino, Fontina, Mozzarella, Provolone, etc. (your preference)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pour melted butter in the bottom of a 2.5 quart oval baking dish.
  3. Toss asparagus with lemon juice, and then add asparagus to baking dish. Add garlic slices, salt and pepper. Gently toss the ingredients together so garlic and seasoning is evenly distributed. the butter will help these ingredients cling to the asparagus..
  4. Drizzle with heavy cream and sprinkle cheeses over the top.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until asparagus is tender and the cheese is melted.
  6. Set oven to broil and place dish under broiler. Broil 1-2 minutes, watching closely, until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Remove from oven when desired browning is achieved.
  7. Serve immediately.

Notes

  1. Pop the flavor: add favorite herbs to this recipe, adding with the garlic, salt and pepper. Thyme, rosemary, sage, or parsely would all be good additions, individually or as blends.
  2. Turn up the heat: add red pepper flakes to taste.
  3. Explore cheese variations: Gruyere, Emmentaler, Gouda, or white Cheddar would work well in this recipe.
  4. Lower the calories and saturated fat: Use half and half in place of cream, choose low-fat versions of the cheeses, use avocado oil instead of butter.
  5. Keep warm: After broiling, remove gratin from oven and reduce heat to 250 degrees F. Gratin can be kept warm in a low-temp oven for up to 30 minutes, but some cooking of the asparagus will continue.

Huevos Rancheros with Chipotle Black Bean Sauce

Happy Cinco de Mayo! We decided to skip the heavy Mexican food meal at the end of the day, and opt for Heuvos Rancheros for brunch this year. It is hearty and filling and will probably stay with us all day.

This dish is basically a layering of ingredients. The Fresh Red Salsa, Chipotle Salsa, and Chipotle Black Bean Sauce can be prepared a day in advance to save time. You could even fry the tortilla shells in advance as they will reheat well in the oven.

This recipe serves 4, but can be easily scaled up or down.

Ingredients

Base
4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
8 Corn Tortillas
8 Eggs
15 oz. Can Refried Beans, divided
1 Cup Chipotle Black Bean Sauce, divided
1 Cup Shredded Cheese, divided (can use Monteray Jack, Cheddar or any combination you prefer)

Toppings
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Fresh Cilantro
Lime Quarters
Sour Cream
Diced Tomatoes
Avocado Slices
Chipotle Black Bean Sauce
Fresh Red Salsa
Chipotle Salsa

Instructions

  1. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and fry tortillas one at a time until firm, but not crisp. Remove to paper towels to drain grease.
  3. Meanwhile, place refried beans in a microwave-safe dish. Cover and cook in the microwave until heated through.
  4. When tortillas are fried and beans are heated, assemble the base by placing four tortillas on the baking sheet. Top with 1/4 of the refried beans, 1/4 cup Chipotle Black Bean Sauce. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup grated cheese, or more if you like it really cheesy.
  5. Place remaining fried tortillas on serving plates.
  6. Bake base until cheese is melted, 2 to 5 minutes, keeping an eye out so you don’t overcook.
  7. While base is cooking , fry eggs over-easy in the skillet. Add butter if the tortillas have absorbed all the oil.
  8. Remove base from oven, place on top of tortilla on serving plate. Top with two fried eggs per plate.
  9. Add desired toppings and serve immediately with extra salsa and sauce on the side.