Grilled Asparagus with Shaved Parmesan

Need a super-easy side dish to make your main course that much more “dishy?”  Witness Grilled Asparagus with Shaved Melted Parmesan!

Dishy dishy!

Dishy dishy!

Oh people.  Oh yes.  Oh you are SO glad you are about to know about this.   I first saw my idol, Ina Garten, do a version of this on her Barefoot Contessa show, but then she put scrambled eggs on top which I thought was weird, so never mind that right now.  This side dish has everything: it’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s amazingly yummy, it makes your pee smell bad – what else could you ask for?  (Yeah, I said it.  I went and ruined it like that.  Well, you’re just going to have to be strong for me.  Believe me, as soon as you taste this heaven-sent side dish, you’ll forget all about the pee reference anyway…)  (Ooops.)  (Let’s move on.)

Salad Spinner
Rectangular pan/baking sheet
Carrot peeler
Basting brush (optional)

Extra virgin olive oil

Heat the oven to 425º.

Prepare the asparagus by snapping the last inch or two off the ends of each one, (you can do this in bunches and feel really macho, you can do this one-by-one and feel like a Virgo or some other vaguely OCD-type, or you can just grab a BIG KNIFE and SLLLLICE them all off in one fell swoop), and place them in the salad spinner, rinsing in the basket and then spinning to get rid of the extra moisture.

(I think I just explained how a salad spinner works.  Should that actually be in this section?  What is this, a physics class?  Sheesh.)

Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into the pan, spreading it out as much as possible, and then fan the asparaguses (asparagi?  asparageese?) out, so that they’re all touching the bottom of the pan.  Like this:


Pay no attention to the punky black sneakers at the bottom of the picture. SO professional... (sigh)

Drizzle a little more olive oil over the top and then with your basting brush or just your hands, (you can imagine which one I recommend), mushel all the stalks around to make sure the oil coats them evenly.  Yes, there is a definite “musheling” happening here.  (I think it’s Yiddish for “move around in a swimmy-like fashion,” but you can check my vocabulary on that one.)

Grind a little pepper and sprinkle a PINCH of kosher salt on these babies – not too much salt or it’ll over-power everything!  Then place the pan in the oven for 15 minutes.

After the 15 minutes, take the pan out, and with your vegetable peeler, as quickly as you can so as not to lose too much heat,  shave thin pieces from the block of Parmesan, (for some reason, my spell-check is telling me to capitalize “Parmesan” – anyone know about that?  Is there some kind of cheese conspiracy or something?), aiming the shavings such that they fall as evenly as possible over the asparageese.  This is kinda like a very challenging but boring video game.  You know, the one where you had to hit all the areas of asparagus with the shavings of Parmesan?

Oh I slay myself.

Once you are duly shaved and covered, place the pan back into the oven for another 5 minutes.  And then…

SERVE and ENJOY!  The cheese will be melted and bubbly, and the savory taste of the parm mixes with the crisp asparagus for a veritable TASTE-BUD PARTY.

You can use thick or thin asparagus – whatever floats your punky boat – and you can also vary the cheese you use, as long as it’s salty and hearty.  Sometimes I use Extra Sharp New York Cheddar if we don’t have any Parm in the fridge.  It might also be interesting with something as salty as feta, but don’t quote me on that, and if anyone out there tries it, leave me a comment and let me know, but please don’t hold me responsible. 

Make sure the oven is almost at 425º when you start musheling the asparagus in the oil – if you leave it sitting there too long before putting it in the oven, it’ll get soggy.  Also, when thinking about your main course, try to coordinate with something else that cooks at 425º – then you can do it all at the same time.  (Oh, like, I dunno, maybe the SAVORY FREE-RANGE TURKEY MEATLOAF BURGERS we just made in the previous post?  See how CLEVER I am?)

And of course I got this asparagus at my wonderful Farmer’s Market – make sure you find one near you (click that link for a guide) and experience the community and earthly JOY that is the world of Farmer’s Markets!  You’ll be all the more satisfied at your cleverness!


5 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    schinders said,

    did you hear the one about the asparagus who was hit by a car? his friends rushed him to the hospital, and waited for hours, until final the doctor came out of the operating room, covered in green. the doctor looked at them and said, i have good news and bad news. the good news is, your friend will live. the bad news is, he will be a vegetable for the rest of his life.

  2. 2

    punkychef said,

    Now you see? This is exactly the kind of commenting we need on PunkyChef. More veggie jokes! LOVE it!

  3. 3

    […] still fun and fancy to produce beautiful-looking plates.  Think about your colors – you made grilled asparagus?  Place the green stalks on a bright blue plate like this! Dishy […]

  4. 4

    pixieblue said,

    Spellcheck told you to capitalize parmesan because it is a French word that refers to the areas where the cheese itself is processed: Parma, Reggio Emilia, Modena, Bologna, in Emilia-Romagna, and Mantova, in Lombardy, Italy. Yay for spellcheck being all gramatically correct and stuff. I love food though and I’m really glad I found you!!

  5. 5

    […] over the top, then shave some fresh Parmesan as well and place pan back in oven.  (Remember our asparagus with the shaved Parm?  Same idea […]

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