Oven Roasted Asparagus With Flavor-Blasted Bread Crumbs

As my family prepares to jet off to an exotic island in the Cayman Islands… well, ok, we’re really just driving to Virginia in the van… but anyway…

We have a fridge full of tasty food that needs prepared (or in this case re-prepared) for consumption.  Traveling is the perfect opportunity to clean out the fridge and clean the interior of the fridge.  I’m bound to read and transcribe many recipes when I’m on vacation, and I’d love to come home to an uncluttered fridge.  New food wins the day!

Today I pulled out some food remnants and began my scheming – day old bread (including home made tomato-basil bread), tomatoes in marinade, a handful of grated Parmesan cheese, fresh asparagus.  Yep, we’ll be having all of this delicious food as an accompaniment to our grilled lamb chops.
Lamb Chop, Wild Rice and Asparagus

Grilled Lamb Chop, Wild Rice and Asparagus

Hare is the recipe for Oven Roasted Asparagus With Flavor-Blasted Bread Crumbs.  Obviously not gluten-free, but definitely vegan if you eliminate the cheese and the single anchovy.  I made this up as I went along and I have to say it worked out great.  Of course when you cover a really tasty veg with really tasty bread crumbs, well, it’s hard to screw up.  Remember to do the bread crumbs ahead of time, don’t toss those day old heels!  Ironically that was the advice I gave my wife years ago when she was considering dumping me for a guy with a leer jet and a spot in the Cayman Islands.   Adapt this recipe as needed.
1 pound fresh asparagus, washed and trimmed (add sea salt to the fresh asparagus and toss; set aside)
1 small bunch green onions (scallions), cut into small discs
2 cups of day old bread, cubed croûton size
1 cup or more leftover tomato marinade salad
olive oil
1 anchovy in oil (skip this if you don’t eat fish, add sea salt instead)
1-2 handfuls of Parmesan cheese (skip if you don’t eat cheese)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Put the bread croûtons into a bowl and drizzle with olive oil, fresh ground pepper and a little Parmesan cheese.  Toss this with your hands, then scatter the croûtons in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Reduce the oven temperature to 200 degrees and slide the baking sheet into the oven.  Stir the bread crumbs every 10 minutes or so; do not allow them to get too brown- you simply want a dry bread crumb.  Meanwhile…
 In a small sauce pan heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat.  Drop in your green onions and simmer until they begin softening and breaking up, about 10-15 minutes.  As those cook mince the anchovy and add it to the oil.  This will begin breaking down under the heat.  Mash the anchovy with the back of the spoon as you stir.  When the anchovy disappears in the sauce dump in your leftover tomato marinade.  Simmer concoction on low heat and stir often.  As the tomatoes stew the skins will begin to loosen.  Each time you stir lift the loose skins out of the mixture and put them in a discard bowl.  What you’re doing here is creating a reduction.  The anchovy adds a salty depth to the sauce.  You will end up with a small amount of sauce, but the flavor will be intense.
Tomato Marinade Reduction

Tomato Marinade Reduction

When the bread crumbs are dried and most of  the skins are out of the sauce turn off the heat to both the pan and the oven.  Remove the bread crumbs and drop 2 handfuls of breadcrumbs into the sauce reduction.  Stir to coat, then pour those back onto the baking sheet with the rest of the crumbs.  Gather all the crumbs toward the center of the sheet and place that back into the warm oven to dry.  You can allow those to cool, then put them in a plastic bag and store up to 24 hours, or until you need them.
Asparagus With Flavor-Blasted Bread Crumbs

Asparagus With Flavor-Blasted Bread Crumbs

Heat a small amount of water under a steamer and place the asparagus in the steamer.  Cover and cook until tender.  While you do that- preheat your oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a small casserole dish.  Sprinkle some of the bread crumbs evenly on the bottom of the casserole dish, then place the asparagus in- cover it with remaining bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.  Put in hot oven for 15-20 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!  ~TH~

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