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Asparagus Under Wraps

The asparagus in this dish is steamed lightly then wrapped with cheese and Parma ham and baked till the cheese is melted. Italian Fontina, if you can get it, has the right squidgy consistency, but the recipe also works well with the sharp flavour of Parmesan.

 
 
 Asparagus Under Wraps

  Serves 2 as a light lunch or 4 as a starter

Ingredients
 12 asparagus stalks (thick ones if possible)
 6 oz (175 g) Fontina or Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
 12 slices Parma ham, total weight approximately 5 oz (150 g)
 salt
To serve:
 freshly grated Parmesan (Parmigiano Reggiano)
  Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
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Equipment
You will also need a solid baking sheet, lightly oiled.

This recipe comes from Delia’s Summer Collection.

Method

To cook the asparagus: take each stalk in both hands and bend and snap off the woody end, then trim with a knife to make it neater. Lay the asparagus stalks on an opened fan steamer (or an ordinary steamer will do) – they can be piled one on top of the other. Season with salt, place them in a frying pan or saucepan, pour in about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of boiling water from the kettle, then put a lid on and steam for 4-6 minutes. If you're using Fontina, slice it into thin strips using a sharp knife. If you're using Parmesan, coarsely grate it.

Now lay the slices of Parma ham out flat on a work surface, divide the strips of cheese along the centre of each slice of ham (or sprinkle with the grated Parmesan if using that), then simply lay an asparagus stalk at one end and roll the whole lot up fairly firmly. All this can be done well in advance; then, when you're ready to cook, lay the rolls on the baking sheet and pop on to the highest shelf of the oven for just 5 minutes, or until the cheese begins to melt. Serve piping hot with a little grated Parmesan to sprinkle over.

 

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