By Cat, April 27, 2017 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
Andalusia is the most southern part of Spain, notable for tapas – a broad selection of appetizers or ‘small plates’ – and fish/seafood. This dish is an example of a tapas treat; I first tried out a tapas bar at a small gourmet restaurant in my old NW Portland neighborhood.
This dish is a combination of asparagus spears baked with crumbs made from browned bread, garlic and almonds, and flavored with a sherry vinaigrette.
This recipe is adapted from one by Daniel Neman, originally in the St. Louis Dispatch and reprinted in our local Daily Inter Lake. (1) Mr. Neman attributes the recipe to The New Mediterranean Diet Cookbook,” by Nancy Harmon-Jenkins.
I recommend using an artisan, crusty, old-world sourdough bread (not too sour), made with whole grain flour at least in part. Or, if you can find it, batbout (Moroccan flatbread), as in photo, right, from The Spruce (formerly MoroccanFood.About) (2).
Be sure to use authentic olive oil – so much of commercial olive oil is diluted with seed oils such as corn or soy. If buying oil from overseas, buy one that indicates the name of the orchard on the bottle; otherwise, most California olive oils can be trusted. See my article: Olive Oil: The Real Deal, or Adulterated/Fake for more about this issue.
Serves 4 to 6.
Ingredients & Equipment
- 12 almonds, blanched*
- 2 lb young asparagus
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled
- 1 (2-inch) slice crusty artisan bread, crusts removed, cut into cubes
- 4 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
- small saucepan (for blanching)
- cast iron skillet or medium saucepan
- slotted spoon
- food processor or blender
- ovenproof gratin dish
‘*Note: To blanch almonds, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Remove from heat and immediately add raw almonds. Let almonds sit in hot water for 45 seconds to 1 minute, but no longer. Drain immediately and briefly run under cold water to stop cooking. Remove peels; they should easily slide off with a pinch.
- Blanch almonds if they have not been blanched already.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Prep: Remove woody end of each asparagus spear, rinse and set aside. Cut bread into ½” cubes; add peeled garlic and blanched almonds.
- Heat 2 Tbsp of the oil in skillet/saucepan over medium heat. Add bread mix and sauté, stirring constantly, until all ingredients are nicely browned, about 5 to 7 minutes. Do not allow them to burn.
- Transfer the browned mixture to a food processor or blender, using a slotted spoon if oil remains in the pan. Add vinegar and salt and process briefly until mixture is a coarse meal.
- Add remaining 2 Tbsp oil to pan, and sauté asparagus over medium-low heat until the stalks change color and start to become tender, about 5 to 7 minutes – don’t cook done.
- Remove and place asparagus in gratin dish. Bring a cup of water to a boil and pour it over the asparagus. Then sprinkle the almond-bread mixture over the top.
- Bake 15 minutes or until asparagus is thoroughly cooked and most of the liquid has boiled away.
- Serve immediately.
- St Louis Dispatch: Mediterranean Diet article and recipes, stltoday.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/mediterranean-diet-is-healthy—-but-is-it/article_5a98ee2f-709b-518e-8668-54251146f32a.html; Asparagus recipe: stltoday.com/lifestyles/food-and-cooking/recipes/andalucian-asparagus/article_dbdb70a1-fd25-5616-9e38-c2f8e15ad0ca.html
- The Spruce (formerly Moroccanfood.About) thespruce.com/moroccan-pita-batbout-mkhamer-toghrift-matlou-2395008