Asparagus is one vegetable that we now can find year round in our grocery stores. However, the thin sweet asparagus found each spring is simply too difficult to resist. As much as I love asparagus, I do get a little tired of simply roasting or blanching asparagus, so when I was preparing it lately, I decided to do something a little different. I roasted my asparagus as usual, after tossing it in olive oil and seasoning it with salt and pepper. Before serving, I fried up some fresh breadcrumbs with anchovies, lemon zest, and pine nuts which I served on top of the asparagus before serving. Do not add the breadcrumbs until just before you serve this dish so the crumb topping remains crisp.
To make my breadcrumbs, I simply throw two slices of crusty Italian bread into my food processor and pulse until it is broken down into crumbs. You do not want the bread to be as fine as store bought dry breadcrumbs, but fairly coarse. The addition of the seasoned crumbs adds both texture and a burst of flavor to a simple roasted vegetable dish. This veggie side will be a great addition to any special meal if you are serving grilled or roasted meats.
If you are not an anchovy fan, and I will admit that I am not, you may prefer using a little anchovy paste instead of whole anchovies. The paste has a milder flavor but still adds that salty zing that makes this crumb topping sing. The anchovy does add a lot of flavor without a fishy taste, so I recommend that you do not skip this ingredient.
Deborah Mele 2015
Roasted Asparagus With Anchovy Lemon Crumb Topping
- 1 Pound Asparagus, Stems Trimmed
- 6 Tablespoons Olive Oil, Divided
- Salt & Pepper
- 1 Cup Fresh Breadcrumbs (See Notes Above)
- 1 Anchovy in Olive Oil
- 1 Teaspoon Lemon Zest
- 1/8 Cups Pine Nuts
- Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
- 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Place the asparagus in an oven proof casserole dish along with 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
- Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
- Roast the asparagus until just barely fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes, then remove from the oven.
- While the asparagus is roasting, heat the remaining oil in a frying pan over medium heat until lightly smoking, then add the anchovy.
- Use a fork to break up the anchovy, then add the breadcrumbs, lemon zest, pine nuts, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
- Continue to cook, stirring continuously until the crumbs are crisp and golden brown.
- Remove from the heat and toss with the parsley.
- Just before serving, spoon the crumbs over the asparagus.