I received an email from my sister a few weeks ago. All it said was:
And then there was a link. Because I’m trying to get everyone to try asparagus, I knew it was something I’d be making. You don’t like asparagus? That’s too bad. You don’t know what you’re missing. My kids eat asparagus.
One key thing when you’re purchasing asparagus. Pay attention. This is VERY important. Please buy young asparagus with tiny stalks. Fat, woody spears of asparagus are not better. I promise. The thinner, the better.
When my neighbor, Sara, invited us over for a BBQ, I knew at least most of the crowd would appreciate the asparagus bundles. And seeing that it was on a Friday and I’d be working all day before we went, I needed something fast and easy. These happen to be both of those. They also still have a wow factor. I like wow factors.
You see that Philadelphia box there? First, I only buy Philly. Why? Because I like it. That is not what we’re looking at, though. This is a box of American Neufchâtel cheese, not to be confused with French Neufchâtel, which is more crumbly and has a soft rind. You could potentially use French Neufchâtel for this, but I would guess the crumbles would make it harder for things to stick together. American Neufchâtel is just reduced fat cream cheese. It’s softer than regular cream cheese and, therefore, lends itself well to being applied to fragile slices of prosciutto.
As it turned out, the knife method of spreading didn’t like the prosciutto either, so I stuffed all the cheese into a Ziploc and snipped the corner off to use it like a pastry bag. And yes, while I was doing this I realized that I could have just used a pastry bag, but there was no turning back. I also determined that 4-5 spears of asparagus seemed to be an appropriate number for this process. Obviously, this varies based on thickness of the individual spears, but you’ll be buying thin ones because you listened to what I said earlier, so we won’t have to worry about that.
When it’s all rolled up, the Neufchâtel will hold it all together, but it looks a little naked.
So, if you’re so daring, wrap it with a green onion. I just pulled the onion apart to get single pieces for the tying process.
When they’re all in their meat blankets, just before placing them in the oven, feel free to drizzle the ends with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Don’t sprinkle the meat, though. Prosciutto has enough salt without your help.
They smell wonderful baking, these vegetables disguised in a meat and cheese wrap.
They taste wonderful too.
|Prosciutto-Rolled Asparagus BundlesAdapted from All Recipes|
40 or so spears of asparagus
8-ounce package Neufchâtel cheese (1/3 reduced fat cream cheese)
1/3 pound thinly sliced prosciutto (10 slices)
3-4 green onions, pulled apart into individual strands
Lay prosciutto out flat. Using a pastry bag, squeeze Neufchâtel cheese onto the meat, or cut cheese into small pieces and dab them on evenly over the piece of meat. Place 4-5 spears of asparagus on top of the meat and roll it around the spears. Take one strand of green onion and wrap it around the meat, tying once in front. Place on baking sheet.
Drizzle the tops and bottoms of the asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake at 450ºF for 15 minutes until green onions begin to brown. Remove from oven and serve.