Tag Archives: asparagus

Fontina, Asparagus and Leek Strata

It’s that time of year when you may be called upon to whip up a brunch for Mothers Day…or a Bridal Shower…or a Baby Shower…or a Graduation party…or any number of other late-spring and early-summer celebratory occasions. Or maybe you’re in the habit of making brunch for your family “just because!” I have a lot of favorite brunch recipes, but this one is a healthy choice and works beautifully at this time of year when asparagus (and leeks!) are in season at last.

I had this for the first time when my Godmother made it for me at her home when I was visiting and it’s been in my repertoire ever since. It’s a nice alternative to the heavier sausage and cheese brunch casseroles that are so prolific and I like to pair it with something homemade and sweet and a delightful bowl of fresh fruit to round out the meal. It might also pair nicely with some turkey sausage now that I think about it!

Enjoy all your upcoming brunch occasions!

Fontina, Asparagus, and Leek Strata
adapted from Cooking Light circa 1999

6 generous servings

1 Tbsp. butter
5 c. sliced asparagus in 1″ pieces (about 1 1/2 pounds)

2 c. thinly sliced leeks – whites and light green parts (about 3 small)

1/2 c. water

3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

2 tsp. grated lemon rind

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper, divided

12 (1-ounce) thin slices dense whole wheat bread

1 c. (4 oz.) shredded fontina cheese, divided

2 1/2 c. skim or 1% lowfat milk

3 large eggs

1 large egg white
1 1/2 c. fresh breadcrumbs (about 3 slices, diced)

cooking spray

Melt butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; add asparagus, leeks, and water. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 10 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in parsley, lemon rind, salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Arrange half of bread slices in a single layer in a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top bread slices with half of asparagus mixture, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese. Repeat procedure with the remaining bread, asparagus mixture, and 1/2 cup cheese.

Combine 1/8 teaspoon pepper, milk, eggs, and egg white, and stir with a whisk until well-blended. Pour the milk mixture over strata. Cover strata, and chill for 8 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Uncover strata; sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake at 400° for 40 minutes or until set.

Shrimp with White Beans and Asparagus

THIS is what you should make for dinner this weekend! (If I do say so myself.) I ripped this recipe out of Health magazine a while back and have been passing over it in my recipe file for far too long. It finally made the cut this week…and WOW…I’m so glad it did! My kids scarfed it down, my husband raved about it, and I’m already planning for the next time I can make it. Yum. As if that endorsement weren’t enough, this takes 10 minutes of prep time and cooks in about 5 minutes. Amazing.

I made some adaptations to the original recipe which I’ve included in the version below. I added asparagus because I thought it needed more vegetables and asparagus is perfectly in season right now! I also decided to serve it over Israeli Couscous, which is the larger couscous that looks like little tapioca balls. I like the texture better than the super fine couscous you generally see in stores. You can find Israeli Couscous in the bulk foods aisle of Whole Foods or other grocery stores, or sometimes in a box near the rice in most grocery stores. If you can’t find it, don’t sweat it. I’m sure traditional couscous would work just fine! In case couscous is new to you, it’s basically just a tiny shape of semolina pasta, not a grain unto itself.

Shrimp with White Beans and Asparagus over Israeli Cous Cous
adapted from Health Magazine recipe

serves 4

1 10 oz. box (1.5 cups bulk) Israeli Cous Cous, cooked according to package instructions
1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1″ pieces, blanched (see below for instructions)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8 scallions, chopped (about 1 bunch)
1 lb. medium shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined
1 (15.5 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Cook couscous and set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and scallions; cook 30 seconds.

Add shrimp and cook, stirring, 3 minutes or until they begin to turn pink.

Add asparagus, beans, parsley, lemon juice, remaining 1 Tbsp. butter, salt and pepper. Cook 2-3 minutes or until heated through. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired.

Serve over couscous.

How to blanch asparagus:
Wash and cut the asparagus into 1″ pieces. Place in a microwave safe bowl with 2 Tbsp water. Cover with plastic wrap. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Immediately transfer asparagus pieces to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. After 2 minutes, remove cooled, blanched asparagus from ice water and set aside until ready to use.