Originally aired January 16, 2012
- For the Roasted Asparagus:
- 1 pound medium- to thick-stalked asparagus
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Coarse Kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 cup Master Breadcrumbs
- Chunk of Parmesan, for grating
- For the Master Breadcrumbs:
- 1 1-pound loaf rustic Italian bread, such as Pugliese
- 1 cup finely grated Pcorino cheese
- 2 garlic cloves, put through a garlic press
- 2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs
- 3 tablespoons dried parsley flakes*
- 1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
For the Roasted Asparagus:
Preheat oven to 450F with a rack set in the middle. Rinse asparagus and pat dry. One spear at a time, snap off the bottoms of each stalk where it breaks naturally.
Place asparagus on a sheet pan and toss with enough oil to just coat about 1 tablespoon. Add a generous pinch of salt and toss.
Sprinkle the breadcrumbs evenly across the spears and place the sheet tray in the oven to roast for 7-10 minutes.
Remove asparagus from the oven when the breadcrumbs are golden brown and the asparagus tips are just starting to turn brown. Grate Parmesan over the spears and serve.
For the Master Breadcrumbs:
The day before you plan to make breadcrumbs: Slice the bread into 1/2-inch slices. Place slices on cake racks to dry out overnight.
In batches, crumble or tear bread slices into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse the bread multiple times until the crumbs are about the size of a dime.
Add the cheese, garlic, herbs and salt, and continue to pulse until the breadcrumbs become fine. Store what you are not using in the freezer or in your refrigerator for 3-4 days.
*Note: I like to use Penzeys for the best quality dried herbs; their parsley is a deep, beautiful green.
Yield: approx. 8 cups