We adore asparagus. Eating locally means fresh veggies are in short supply in the winter months. Those first sprigs of fresh asparagus mark the beginning of Spring for us. They awaken a craving for green crunchiness that has been hibernating all winter.
We were lucky to be tasting wine is Alsace, France and the Mosel Valley in the Spring when their asparagus season began. All of the village markets were brimming with different varieties of asparagus in white, purple, and green.
Most restaurants proudly place their chalk specials boards on crowded sidewalks announcing their asparagus dishes. And while my German and French consist mostly of fake accents and lots of miming, I can read a menu like some people play piano by ear and quickly began seeking signs with the words “asperges” in French and “spargel” in German.
We encountered several asparagus preparations on our trip. Most of them involved some sort of white sauce, pork product, and sometimes boiled eggs. The Alsatian Asparagus is a version we concocted to remind us of our trip.
While we picked up a few bottles of beautiful Alsatian and German wines we also found some wine at home in Oregon that paired well. This Chardonnay from Stoller Family Estate was crisp, fresh, and delightful with green mineral notes that matched the asparagus flavors and added zingy counterbalance to our white sauce.
- 12 spears of asparagus, washed with hard end of stalk snapped off
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering baking dish
- 1 tablespoon flour
- ⅓ cup milk
- salt and pepper
- freshly ground nutmeg
- ⅓ up grated gruyere cheese
- 4 thin slices of Black Forest ham
- Preheat oven to 350°. Butter an 8x8 baking dish. Divide asparagus into 4 bundles of three, wrapping a slice of ham around each bundle. Place in buttered dish.
- In a small saucepan melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add flour and stir until toasted. Add milk in a steady stream stirring constantly to form a thick sauce. Remove from heat and add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and grated cheese. Spoon sauce over asparagus bundles. Bake 25 minutes or until sauce is a bit toasted and bubbly.