I used black forest ham in this picture and it reacted a bit like bacon so it’s a bit crispy and very browned. However, it was delicious, much more economical than prosciutto and still very tasty—always trying to be economical here in my kitchen. This dish was made in an aluminum pan for a friend who had just injured herself in a down hill ski accident.
Asparagus and Prosciutto Strata (an overnight casserole dish)
It’s always such a great pleasure to host a breakfast for a group of people and have them enjoy your cooking efforts with big smiles on their faces. That’s part of what was so rewarding in having been an inn keeper at my B&B and now that I have the privilege of writing articles for our wonderful local Weekly Sun, they allow me to play inn keeper every now and then. That’s what just recently happened at our January get together and this is one of the items which I prepared. Of course I want to share this with my readers as well.
Here though, before you get to the recipe, are a few little known facts about the asparagus that might be of interest to you. In France, Louis XIV had a special greenhouses built for growing it. The finest texture and the strongest yet most delicate taste which is in the asparagus tips, were called, once again in France, “Les points d’amour (love tips)”. Leave it to the French to make a love connection to the asparagus tips. They were served as a delicacy to Madame de Pompadour. Asparagus was pictured as an offering on an Egyptian frieze dating to 3000 B.C. Romans would even freeze this healthy vegetable high in the Alps, for the Feast of Epicurus. Emperor Augustus reserved the “Asparagus Fleet” for hauling the vegetable and coined the expression “faster than cooking asparagus” for quick action. As well, asparagus is often grown in conjunction with tomatoes because: the tomato plant repels the asparagus beetle while the asparagus repels some harmful root nematodes that affect the tomato plants. So here’s a salute to that “Point D’Amour”.
- One Lb. asparagus, tough stem ends snapped off and the remainder cut in 2 inch pieces.
- 1 loaf 3/4 lb. crusty artisan style bread, cut into 1 inch pieces. I use a French bread loaf
- 3 ounces thinly sliced Prosciutto cut into 1/2 –inch thick strips
- 1 ¼ C. shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese
- 1/2 C. chopped chives
- 1 Tblsp. grated lemon peel
- 6 eggs
- 3 ½ C. milk
- 1/2 Tsp. salt
- 1/2 Tsp. pepper
- In a medium pan bring about 2 quarts water to a boil; add asparagus and cook for about 3 minutes-till they are bright green and barely tender. Immerse them in cold water to stop them from cooking more.
- In a lightly oiled or sprayed 9 X 13 Pyrex or other oven proof dish spread half of the bread cubes.
- There will be 4 layers. Top the first layer of bread cubes with 1/2 of the following ingredients:
- Prosciutto or some sort of thin sliced ham–smoked or not
- Shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese.
- Now place the other half of the bread crumbs on top and layer again as above in #3.
- In a blender blend the eggs, milk, S&P and lemon peel and pour over the layered ingredients.
- Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 and bake until center of strata is set and the top is lightly browned (40-50 minutes).
- Serve warm or at room temperature.