Asparagus Gratin

A couple of years ago (or has it been 3 years?) we launched Summer Fest, an online garden party with weekly recipes showing off what we had growing in our gardens and cooking in our kitchens. Many of you played along on your blogs too – and it was so much fun it’s almost a year-round thing now.

This Spring, we’re playing “Spring Fling” along with with good friends Deb, Editor of Food Network, Margaret of Away to Garden, Diane & Todd of White on Rice Couple, Matt Armendariz, Shauna of Gluten Free Girl, Gaby of What’s Gaby Cooking, Nicole of Pinch My Salt AND YOU TOO, WE HOPE! See end of post for links to other Spring Fling Asparagus recipes.

This week’s theme is Asparagus, and my dish is Asparagus Gratin, a recipe found in Cook’s Country Magazine, May 2011 issue. What’s different about this recipe is that instead of just discarding the woody asparagus ends, it’s used to make a flavorful quick broth that will be used to create the sauce in the recipe.

There’s also no cream in the recipe – butter and flour make a nutty roux to thicken the asparagus broth into a delicate, light sauce.


How to make Asparagus Gratin

Following directions from Cook’s Country (May 2011 issue) by Cook’s Illustrated.

Cut off the woody ends from asparagus.

These will be used to make a quick vegetable broth that we’ll use in the recipe.

Simmer them for 5 minutes in a saute pan or skillet.

Use slotted spoon to remove stems (discard), keep the water in the saute pan.

Now let’s cook the asparagus in that broth that we just made. Cover and cook just for 2 minutes until almost tender. We’ll finish cooking them in the oven.

Once the asparagus is done, remove with slotted spoon. Pour the asparagus broth into measuring cup — we’ll need just 1 /2 cup of that broth.

Dry the pan, add butter and when the butter is melted and begins to bubble, whisk in the flour.

Cook to create a roux.

Pour the reserved asparagus broth into the pan.

Whisk then stir in the cheeses.

Pour sauce into casserole dish, lay asparagus on top, sprinkle remaining cheese.

Broil for 6 minutes until asparagus is tender and cheese melted.



Asparagus Gratin Recipe

Servings: 4

Prep Time:5 minutes

Cook Time:18 minutes

Recipe modified slightly from Cook's Country (May 2011 issue) by Cook's Illustrated.


1 pound asparagus
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley


1. Place rack in upper middle position of the oven and preheat the broiler to high.

2. Trim the woody ends of the asparagus off. In a saute pan (with lid), bring the water to a simmer. Add the woody asparagus ends plus 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the water and cook for 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, remove and discard the woody asparagus ends.

3. Return water to a simmer. Add the asparagus to the water, cover and cook for 2 minutes, until just nearly tender (for very thin asparagus, you only need to cook 1 minute). With slotted spoon, remove the asparagus and reserve. Pour just 1/2 cup of the asparagus water into a measuring cup (discard the rest).

4. Wipe the saute pan dry and return to stove on medium heat. Melt the butter in the pan and with whisk or spoon, stir in the flour. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook until thickened and nutty smelling, about 3-5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Stir in most of the cheese (reserve a couple of tablespoons of cheese for the top of the asparagus) and the reserved asparagus water. Taste then season with salt and pepper.

5. Pour this thickened cheesy sauce into oven-safe casserole dish. Place the asparagus on top of the sauce. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top of asparagus. Broil for 6-8 minutes. Top with parsley. Serve immediately.

Asparagus Spring Fling!

Come see more asparagus recipes from our Spring Fling participants! If you’d like to play along to, comment with your link to your asparagus recipe and I’ll post it.

Food Network Healthy Eats Asparagus 5 Ways
A Way to Garden 12 Don’t for Growing, Cooking and Preserving Asparagus
Food Network Dish Spring Fling: Asparagus
Cooking Channel Asparagus Frittata, Your Easter Brunch Centerpiece
Pinch My Salt Asparagus Gratin
What’s Gaby Cooking Skinny Asparagus and Gruyere Tart
Food2 Seasonal Spotlight: Asparagus
Steamy Kitchen Asparagus Gratin