A Time Capsule Worth Opening

Last Thursday was a day of incredible good fortune. My phone rang three times (okay, it rang a lot more than that, but work with me here!) and three times a family member was on the other end asking if they could come stay for a night or two this week. I realize that there are many people out there who would be horrified by three relatives coming in the same week- but I am not one of them. I am very lucky-I actually adore my family. And, if I could have all of them live around the corner, I would do so in a heartbeat. But alas, two of my siblings live in Massachusetts and one in Kansas City and my cousins are scattered to the wind like dandelion fluff. Unfair, I say! But, back to the phone calls… anyway, on Monday night my brother Steve arrived. He was here in time for dinner and so another recipe taster walked into my lair!

I had found an interesting looking vegetable/side dish that showcased Asparagus in this past Sunday’s NY Times Magazine. The recipe was part of a series of old recipes remade by current chefs. The magazine prints both the original recipe and the new version. Now, I must confess that I am not a fan of the current NY Times Food stuff. I think that it tries too hard. But, during the 1980’s- when I first really became aware of its’ existence-and through the 90’s –it was a must read for me. Everything I ever made during that period was great and some of them have been staples of my cooking ever since. Anyway, this recipe hailed from 1997-right in my NY Times Food section sweet spot. It looked fast and delicious and so I vowed to give it a try.

On Monday afternoon as I glanced at the recipe- asparagus with prosciutto, herbs and cheese bound together with a bit of egg-I noticed that the cooking time was off. The recipe from 1997 called for blanching the asparagus first before baking in a 350 oven for 35 minutes. Definitely overkill. So, as I set out to make it, I eliminated the blanching and tweaked the spices.

That night I served a dinner of grilled veal chops, a salad and the NY Times asparagus circa 1997. Both Tad and Steve were dubious at best about the quiche like substance that appeared on their plate. But, they both gamely dug in and then into seconds and then thirds. Asparagus alla Fontina for six was completely eaten by three and declared by my husband to be “a sleeper hit.” Who says new means improved? All hail the old NY Times recipes!

Asparagus alla Fontina– serves six
Adapted from Mimi Sheraton, The NY Times
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed of the tough ends and washed
4 T unsalted butter
sea salt/pepper
1/3 – ½ c grated Gruyere
¾ c finely minced prosciutto
2 T minced parsley
3 eggs, beaten
3-4 T freshly grated Parmesan

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. ***PAM a 9 or 10 inch pie pan. Cut the asparagus into 1-inch pieces. Melt the butter in a deep saucepan. Add the asparagus and toss. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg.
3. Turn the asparagus into the pie pan and arrange in an even layer. Sprinkle with the Gruyere, prosciutto, and parsley. Pour the beaten eggs on top, shaking the pan gently to distribute.
4. Top with Parmesan and bake until the eggs are set into custard and a golden-brown crust forms on top, about 35 minutes. Serve hot, warm or room temperature.

ps: with a salad- this is a fabulous lunch!



  1. Suzanna
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 9:07 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This sounds fantastic! Viva l’asparagus! I have been making it steamed and creamed but this is a must-try.

  2. katie
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 8:15 am | Permalink | Reply

    ok it’s official. YOU ARE MY HERO!!!!!!

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