Sunday, March 8, 2009
Sunday Sammiches: Roasted Asparagus & Onion Panini
Asparagus is one of the seasonal crops that we eat with gusto for a short time, and then relinquish at the end of the season -- so "asparagussed-out" that we are happy to have a long reprieve. Like the tomatoes of August, we crave them for months, eat them with abandon, and walk away from them when June hits.
At this time of the year, I really ought to start the countdown for fresh WI asparagus. After all, local produce offers so many benefits... but, I can't help myself. It's hard to resist when my winter palate starts to salivate over their crisp, green stalks. So, I have a tendency to break down and buy a few rounds of California spears.
I thought the first asparagus spears of the season deserved a special treatment, so Peef and I put our heads together. A sammich was probably the last thing on our minds, but then it occurred to us that a ham & swiss with asparagus might be seriously good. And why not make the sammich less about the ham and more about the asparagus while we were at it?? Peef agreed that the concept sounded good, so we got to work.
We happened to have a couple of light, fluffy Telera rolls on hand, along with some local gruyere, which I thought would make a nice match for the asparagus.
We chopped the asparagus into 2-3 inch pieces, and tossed it with some thinly sliced onion.And I made a lemon vinaigrette of sorts with a bit of lemon juice, some zest, a bit of olive oil, and some melted butter.
We tossed the vinaigrette with the asparagus & onions...
... and then threw everything into a hot oven to roast for 15-20 minutes.
Then we set to work on the sammiches -- first placing a few thin slices of gruyere on each bun...
Then, adding the ham...
We spread the top of the bun with a bit of basil pesto, and added a slice of regular Swiss cheese (for a bit of creaminess).
At this point, we closed the sammich up and threw her on the panini grill for a few minutes until the cheese got all nice and gooey.
We opened her back up again (you'll note the cheesy goodness all intermingling with the pesto and ham. yeeeum.)
And we loaded on the asparagus and onions.
This was going to be one happy little sammich.
Turned out to be kinda purty too, with a majority of the asparagus spears lining up for their photo op.
Seriously, these were some great sammiches. The Telera buns were the perfect texture -- soft in the middle, but crisp on the outside, and not too heavy so that they overwhelmed the asparagus. The cheese was creamy and flavorful. The asparagus was fresh and tender (NOT stringy) -- and the onions were ultra sweet from being roasted. The lemon gave everything a burst of freshness, while the basil pesto brought forward a great herbal note. Surprisingly, although the ham was a nice touch, I'd venture a guess that these would be just as amazing as a vegetarian sammich.
Like "spring in a bun."
Try 'em for yourself!!
Roasted Asparagus & Onion Panini (with or without ham)
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