There are times when I just want to start the week with some indulgence. Even with the temperature shooting up to 82F/28C, I care less and start the oven. Spring is in full form and asparagus is everywhere in the market. My absolute favorite way to enjoy asparagus is to either roasted or blanched, topped with soft-boiled eggs. But then, the sudden crave of creamy gratin gets on my mind and I go with the flow.
I don’t have a lot to say about this dish. Neither did I grew up eating asparagus nor my Mom ever made gratin. It’s a dish that I learnt to prepare over a period of time and absolutely love it. It is just a comforting flavorful meal that can either work as a center piece for an elaborate party or a casual weeknight family dinner.
The key, of course, is to get the fresh and best quality seasonal asparagus. Right now, it is the peak time when markets are loaded with asparagus. It just needs such minimal effort to cook the veggie. With the béchamel sauce, I made it super garlicky and didn’t have to go with excess butter. Also, I like to add 1 cube of vegetable bouillon for that maximum flavor. The bouillon cubes are often salty, so you don’t have to add any extra salt to the sauce.
- 1 lb asparagus
- water to boil the asparagus
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 5 garlic cloves, grated
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup milk
- 1 vegetable bouillon
- ½ cup grated mozzarella cheese
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ cup breadcrumbs
- ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 400F/200C.
- Prepare a baking dish by lightly greasing it with butter.
- Bring a big pot of water to boil. Trim the ends of the asparagus and drop it into the pan. Cook for 1 minute and then drain the asparagus. Line the tender asparagus on the prepared baking dish.
- For the béchamel sauce, place a sauce pan on medium heat and drop the butter. Once the butter starts to melt, add grated garlic and stir. Add the all-purpose flour and whisk for a minute. Then, pour milk and add nutmeg. Crush the vegetable bouillon with your fingers and add it to the same pan. Keep whisking continuously for 5 minutes or until the sauce turns thick and coats the spoon when dipped in the sauce.
- Switch off the heat and add half of the cheese to the sauce. Give it a mix and pour it over the asparagus. Top it with rest of the cheese and breadcrumbs.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until its bubbling and turns mildly brown on top.
- Serve hot with your choice of bread or salad on the side.