What’s this? Three ways to wrap asparagus in prosciutto? Seriously?!
Okay, it’s true… I’m not one of those fancy schmancy cooks that make a dish three ways to prove my technical ability. Nup, I just couldn’t decide between three variations on this simple dish, so what’s a girl gotta do but try them all out. I know… what a let-down!
The fact of the matter is that I came across Giada De Laurentiis’ recipe for Roasted Asparagus Wrapped In Prosciutto the other day and given asparagus is in season down here in New Zealand, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Before I made it though, I did a bit of research and discovered that there were a few variations out there. Giada’s recipe roasts the asparagus first before wrapping it in fresh prosciutto (in true Italian style), while others roast the prosciutto with the asparagus to crisp it up. Still others spread cream cheese inside the wrapped prosciutto before roasting it. In the end, I thought it might be fun to try each version and see which I preferred. Needless to say, I am now suffering from heart-burn.
At least I can say that I now know, without a doubt, which version I prefer. Here’s what I found:
- Giada de Laurentiis’ version is the clear winner for me. As an Italian she knows, of course, that prosciutto is meant to be eaten uncooked – its flavour is salty, but subtle in its fresh state and there’s nothing quite like how that delicate web of meat tears apart when you eat it.
- The asparagus roasted WITH the prosciutto provides a nice crispy contrast to the asparagus, but the cooking process seems to concentrate the salt flavour markedly. You definitely want to reach for a glass of water.
- The asparagus roasted with the prosciutto AND with a layer of cream cheese is, to my mind, good sense gone haywire – incredibly salty AND rich at the same time – you can barely even taste the asparagus. Two glasses of water chucked down straight afterwards.
It goes without saying – the Italians know what they’re doing. They’re all about combining simple ingredients and letting the flavours speak for themselves. And that’s how this dish should be – sweet roasted asparagus doused in olive oil and contrasted with fresh, wafer-thin salty slices of prosciutto. Perfecto.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS WRAPPED IN PROSCIUTTO (3 WAYS)
- 1 lb asparagus (about 15-20 stalks, trimmed)
- 1 tbsp virgin olive oil
- Salt (optional – I find the prosciutto salty enough and didn’t use it)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 6 to 8 paper-thin slices prosciutto (halved lengthwise)
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F).
- Snap the dry stem ends off of each asparagus and place on a heavy baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt (go easy on it) and pepper, and toss. Roast until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes. Cool completely.
- Wrap each asparagus with 1 piece (about 1/2 a slice) of prosciutto, exposing tips. Arrange on a platter and serve at room temperature.
- Wrap the asparagus with prosciutto prior to baking it. Then bake for 15 minutes as per the recipe.
- Spread cream cheese over each piece of prosciutto before wrapping the asparagus inside it. Then bake for 15 minutes as per the recipe.