More asparagus? Oh yes. We seem to be pulling out at least a pound every day at the moment. How long this will keep up I don’t know, but right now, it’s asparagus, asparagus, asparagus. We also pulled out all the over-wintered leeks that are not being saved to go to seed, so we have a bit of a glut of them at the moment too. These are the leeks we are trying to develop to be good in the spring, and I’d say we are on the way. Too many of them are too small, but a few years of selections should go a long way to fix that problem. Meanwhile, they are tender and not too ratty looking, which is the usual problem with overwintered leeks. The fact that many were about the same size and shape as the asparagus was actually quite useful.
If you don’t have leeks, though, this would be fine with just asparagus. You might want to toss a finely chopped green onion into the batter though to make up for them.
I’m also a bit amused by my (lack of) thought processes. Why not bake asparagus in cheese sauce so thick it was more like a pudding? Brilliant! Original! Only not. After a while it occurred to me that not only was I re-inventing the clafoutis, but that I have already made at least one cheesy, savoury clafoutis. Oh well! It was a good idea, and we enjoyed it.
4 to 6 servings
1 hour 15 minutes – 30 minutes prep time
500 grams (1 pound) asparagus OR mix asparagus and leeks
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup barley flour
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
125 grams (1/4 pound) Cheddar
(or other strong flavoured melty cheese), grated
3 large eggs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Put a shallow pan of water on to boil. Wash and trim the asparagus. You can replace up to half of it with asparagus-sized leeks, if you can get any such thing. When the water boils, put in the prepared leeks and cook for 6 or 7 minutes, then add the prepared asparagus and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes. Lift them out with tongs, and set aside to drain.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Meanwhile, heat the butter in a large skillet with the flour, mustard, salt, and pepper. Mix well to a paste, and cook briefly until thick. When the vegetables are done, use 1 cup of the cooking water, added slowly to the pan of butter and flour and mixing well between each addition, to form a thick sauce.
Remove it from the heat and mix in the grated cheese until melted. When cool enough not to set the eggs, beat them in one at a time.
Clean out the pan you used to cook the vegetables (or use another shallow baking pan that will hold about 2 litres/quarts). Use the remaining butter to grease it generously. Lay the drained asparagus (and leeks) in a single layer in the pan, and scrape the cheese batter evenly over them.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes at 375°F, until set and lightly browned around the edges. Let rest 10 to 15 minutes before serving, or even a little longer.
Last year at this time I made Cream of Radish Soup.