Have you started to make your shopping list for Thanksgiving? This year, I’m adding asparagus to my list. Every year, I assure my family we will have the traditional dishes they all love and associate with the holiday but I will also make at least one offering that’s trendy or has a little twist to it.
As you know, I love the challenge of making a dish with the freshest ingredients. A few years ago, my daughter took the idea of the traditional green bean casserole and broke it down into the very best ingredients. She made a home-made cream of mushroom gravy and used fresh green beans. I’m doing a take on that this year but I will be using asparagus in place of green beans.
Do you make stuffing or dressing? And do you use primarily cornbread, or mostly cubes of white bread? My family tends to lean toward the southern traditional with cornbread. I don’t get a lot of wiggle room when it comes to dressing; they are pretty consistent about that. But hopefully they will be open to asparagus this year! If your family bulks at the idea, this recipe can be easily adapted to make a nice, fresh green bean casserole, if you prefer. Enjoy food made fresh!
Fresh Asparagus Casserole
6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 1/4 pound fresh asparagus
1/2 pound button mushrooms
1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons flour, divided
1/2 cups half & half
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg
1 onion, very thinly sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Rinse asparagus. Bend each stalk to snap off tough end; it will naturally bend I the right spot. Cut the good part into thirds, about 1 ½ inches long. Brush mushrooms with damp paper towel to remove any loose dirt. Cut mushrooms into cubes. Melt 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat in large skillet. Add asparagus and mushrooms. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until partly tender. Remove with slotted spoon and place in bowl; set aside. In same skillet, add the other 3 tablespoons butter cooking over medium heat. Once melted, add 3 tablespoons flour, stirring for a minute or two until flour turns light brown. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Whisk in half & half. Continue whisking for a minute or two until it begins to thicken. Stir in a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg, or ground nutmeg. Add vegetables back to pan and stir to coat (same 3 or 4 pretty asparagus tips to garnish the top of the casserole). Pour mixture into buttered backing dish. Cover with foil and bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.
Toss thinly sliced onions in remaining 1/3 cup flour. Heat vegetable oil in large skillet over medium heat. Once oil sizzles when small piece of onion is added, add remaining onions and cook, stirring often until light brown and crunchy. If you let one of them turn black, don’t worry, just pick that one out – I’m sure Durkees burns one once in a while. Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt.
Remove casserole from oven after 30 minutes and top with crunchy onions. Return to oven without foil for 5 minutes. Serves 8.