With asparagus in high season, this is a delicious way to start a special meal. My favorite way to cook asparagus is to roast it at high heat which caramelizes and concentrates its flavor. After it’s been roasted, asparagus dresses up very easily. In this recipe from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home, I have put it on grilled bread, tossed it with a little balsamic vinegar and white truffle oil, and finished it with some shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. Simple as it is, people go crazy for this hors d ‘oeuvre. You can grill the bread and roast the asparagus a day ahead. Just don’t toss it with the vinegar and truffle oil until the last minute.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Six 1/3-inch thick slices rustic country bread, cut from a 6-inch-high loaf
1 garlic clove, halved
1/4 pound Parmigiano-Reggiano
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons white truffle oil*Serves 6
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and discard. Peel the stalks of the asparagus halfway up the length and arrange in one flat layer over the bottom of a roasting pan or baking sheet. Drizzle on the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast on the middle rack of the oven until just tender, about 10 minutes. Cool and cut in half crosswise.
Prepare a charcoal fire. When the flames have died down and the coals are glowing, place the grill 3 to 4 inches from the source of heat. Alternatively, preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat until very hot. Grill the bread until lightly toasted, turning often. Rub one side of each slice with the cut garlic clove while hot.
Using a swivel-bladed peeler, shave large paper-thin slices of cheese off the wedge, making enough cheese slices to cover the 6 slices of bread. (Reserve any remaining cheese for another use.)
Cover the bread with the cheese. Toss the asparagus with the vinegar and half the truffle oil. Season with salt and pepper. Top each slice of bread with asparagus, mounding it in the center. Drizzle with the remaining truffle oil and serve at room temperature.