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Roasted Asparagus with Buttery Breadcrumbs

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Serves four as a side dish.

For the crumbs, choose a baguette or countrystyle loaf made with only flour, water, yeast and salt. (Avoid bread with sugar, eggs or seasonings.) The two-step method for breadcrumbs results in a more consistent texture.

  • 2 oz. day-old bread, crust removed, or four 1/2-inch-thick baguette slices
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • Kosher salt
  • 1-1/2 lb. asparagus, trimmed
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 250ºF. Put the bread in a food processor and pulse until coarse crumbs form. Spread the crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until they’re dry and lightly crisped, about 20 minutes. Let cool and then grind again in the processor to get a scant 1/4 cup of fine crumbs.

Melt the butter in a skillet over moderately low heat. Add the breadcrumbs and thyme. Cook slowly, stirring often, until the crumbs are a uniform deep golden brown, about 18 min. Season with 1/8 tsp. salt and set aside to let cool. The crumbs will crisp as they cool.

Raise the oven temperature to 450ºF. Put the asparagus on a baking sheet in a single layer and drizzle with the olive oil. Using your hands, toss the spears to coat evenly with the oil. Season with 1/2 tsp. salt. Roast until the spears are tender and lightly blistered, 12 to 14 min. for medium spears. Transfer them to a platter or individual plates, sprinkle with the lemon juice, and top with the breadcrumbs. Serve immediately.

nutrition information (per serving):
Size : based on four servings; Calories (kcal): 150; Fat (g): 8; Fat Calories (kcal): 70; Saturated Fat (g): 3; Protein (g): 5; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4; Carbohydrates (g): 15; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 1; Sodium (mg): 370; Cholesterol (mg): 10; Fiber (g): 4;

Photo: Scott Phillips

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