The second recipe from this week's Cook the Book—Patricia Wells's Vegetable Harvest—calls for asparagus. Sure, it's just out of season, but if you can't resist this vegetable and insist on picking it up at all times of the year, like I often do, then this recipe, with its gruyère and smoked ham, is a nice way of augmenting the tasty spears.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 16 small spears (about 1 pound) fresh green asparagus, rinsed and tough ends trimmed
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/2 cup freshly grated Swiss Gruyère cheese
- 16 thin slices best-quality smoked ham (about 10 ounces)
In a skillet large enough to hold the asparagus in a single layer, combine the oil, asparagus, and salt. Sprinkle with several tablespoons of cold water. Cover. Cook over high heat just until the oil and water mixture begins to sizzle. Reduce the heat to medium and braise the asparagus, turning from time to time, just until the vegetable begins to brown in spots, 8 to 10 minutes.
Place the cheese on a large plate. Roll the asparagus in the cheese. Wrap each asparagus spear in a slice of ham and secure with a toothpick.
Return the asparagus to the skillet and cook until the ham is crispy and brown, turning the asparagus with tongs, about 2 minutes. Serve immediately.