I'm reveling in the warm weather, soaking my toes in it as long as possible and loving every single minute of it. Just two days ago, I was driving to meet a friend and was blown away by how quickly the weather can change. What was cold and gray with no signs of life a few weeks ago has changed to a forest of green: the grass, the leaves, the plants popping up from the ground.
At our farmers market, one of the first things to show up on vendor stands (besides plants for the garden, which I stocked up on last week) is the asparagus, so crisp and fresh you can snap into it raw and eat the tender spears like carrots. Nothing can beat fresh-from-the-market asparagus.
We baked our asparagus in a crunchy breading and served them up in place of traditional fries alongside grilled fare. They were bright and easy and the perfect springtime substitute.
Panko Asparagus Fries
1 bunch thin fresh asparagus spears
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
1½ cups panko bread crumbs
½ cup shredded Parmesan
Preheat oven to 425º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Rinse and pat dry asparagus spears. Snap asparagus ends off. (Ends can be saved to make a wonderful vegetable broth!)
In a shallow dish, beat together eggs, Dijon, salt and pepper. In another shallow dish, combine panko and Parmesan. One at a time, dip asparagus spears into the egg mixture and then roll in the panko, lining them up on the baking sheet about ½" apart until full.
Bake for 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through. Remove from oven and serve with aioli for dipping.
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