The Asparagus season is over, I know, and I am late again! I had been keeping this recipe for a while now in my “recipe box”, and I had thought of posting it much earlier but it had kind of disappeared in my systems archives. Now after rediscovering it, I had to post it since it is a typical dish I grew up with and it’s one of my absolute favorites, respectably. For this recipe we always use fresh white Asparagus, sometimes though I have to confess that we tend to switch over to the canned ones in the darker, cold winter months and then only because we are so addicted to this dish. Asparagus is very rare in India, so whenever I am in Europe I literally stuff myself with the white delicious stems.
By now you have figured it out already, that I am a full on asparagus fan! I took some time to research a bit about the plants history, since I had heard before that it was used a lot in the antique in several ways.
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Apparently, asparagus has been eaten and enjoyed more then 20.000 years ago (nope, there is no extra zero mistake involved…). The Egyptians, back then enjoyed it in their cuisine and even utilized it in their medicine, since it provides diuretic properties. The Romans, Greeks and others soon picked up some knowledge here and there and started to grow asparagus for their own use. The Romans used to even dry them, so to eat them in the cold winter months or even freeze them in the alps, for the Feast of Epicurius. The Ancients came, saw, were victorious and after all collapsed and the knowledge around the Asparagus was forgotten. The Medieval world seemed to have other things in their head cause they were little bothered to cultivate Asparagus.
Muhammad al-Nafzawi’s “The Perfumed Garden” (published 16th), an Arabic book for grown ups, mentioned that Asparagus had aphrodisiac powers. After that the revival of the plant was unstoppable! French Monasteries were the first to cultivate Asparagus again and the rest of Europe followed. The French king, Louis XIV, had even build special greenhouse glass houses, so to cultivate the best of the best of Asparagus stems.
Why I enjoy Asparagus is not because it has apparently “special” effects, I love it simply because of its taste and the way one can incorporate them into their cooking. My mum used to always tell us too, how healthy they were. “Slim and trim Vegetables, can only be good for our nutrition!” Those are her wise words and I believe she is right!
The White Asparagus, ham Roll-Ups, topped with white sauce are perfect when cooked for the whole family for midday lunch or served for evening dinner. They are quick and easy to prepare and very filling. All kids love it, there is no exception (at least I haven’t met any) and it’s an excellent weekday meal, since it will only take up a small amount of time to prepare the recipe. In case you can even use green Asparagus instead of the white kind, those cook even faster! We like to serve the Roll-Ups after having a couple of fresh radishes with salt. Simple combination of flavors for a complete, delicious meal!
- 24 fresh white Asparagus
- 200 g Ham cuts
- 30 g Butter
- 2 Tbs White Flour
- ½ l Milk
- pinch grated Nutmeg
- pinch Salt
- pinch Pepper
- grated Emmental cheese
- Start by rinsing the fresh Asparagus stems and peel and trim the ends. No "woody" Asparagus bits should be left!
- Simmer the Asparagus by placing them standing into the cooking water, (heads up) until they are soft but not mushy.
- Prepare the White Sauce. In a sauce pan melt the butter and add the flour, stirring continuously. Add the milk and keep on steering with a whisk on the heat till the sauce thickens. Season the sauce.
- Roll 1 slice of ham around 3 cooked asparagus and place the Roll-Ups into a fire proof form next to each other.
- Pour the white sauce gradually over the Roll-Ups and top with grated Emmental cheese.
- Bake at 180 C. for about 5 min. and serve hot!
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