The fresher the asparagus, the sweeter
and more delicate it tastes. Look for vivid green asparagus that has no
blemishes or bruises. The buds should be tightly closed, the stalks firm. The
bottoms of the spears should look freshly cut and not dried out.
Whether you choose pencil-thin, standard or fat spears is a matter of taste and
of how you plan to use them; they should be equally tender. The choice between
whole spears or tips is basically one of convenience vs. money. Whole spears
have a woody section that you can easily separate from
the tender tip by snapping the stalk where it naturally tends to bend.
Asparagus and Chicken Lasagna
2 1/2 lbs. skinless boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
3 T. olive oil
3 lbs. fresh asparagus
1/2 cup sweet butter
1/2 C. all-purpose flour
2 1/2 C. whole milk
2 1/2 C. chicken stock
2 medium yellow onions, cut in small dice
1 1/2 T. minced garlic
2 T. finely chopped fresh thyme
1/4 C. finely chopped flat leaf parsley
1 1/2 lbs. lasagna noodles, cooked and drained
1/2 lb. Asiago cheese, grated
3/4 lb. monterey jack cheese, grated
Trim chicken, season with salt, pepper and olive oil; let marinate about 30
minutes. Grill on each side and finish in 350° F oven until just done (about 12
minutes). Cool and cut into 1/2 inch dice.
Blanch asparagus in boiling chicken stock for 1 minute, cool and grill lightly
(can use a cast-iron skillet). Cool, cut on bias into 1/2-inch pieces, reserving
15 tips about 1 1/4 inches long. Add asparagus pieces to chicken. Sauté onions,
garlic and thyme over medium heat in butter for 3 to 4 minute until softened.
Stir in flour to form a roux and continue to cook, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes
over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, bring chicken stock back to a boil, add milk
and reduce heat to medium. Add milk mixture to roux, 1 cup at a time, stirring
Simmer sauce for 10 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching. Season with
kosher salt and pepper. Combine with chicken, asparagus and parsley.
For lasagna: In a large lasagna pan or two 9x13 inch baking dishes, layer
chicken and asparagus with sauce, lasagna noodles, grated Asiago and jack
cheese, repeating layers as necessary. Garnish with reserved asparagus tips.
Can be made ahead to this point and refrigerated.
Bake at 325°F for 30 to 40 minutes or longer if it has been refrigerated Serve