GINNA PARSONS: Cheese, panko add crunch to asparagus

By Ginna Parsons/NEMS Daily Journal

A week before Easter, just as the season’s first fresh asparagus was hitting the grocery stores, I found a recipe on Pinterest for crunchy asparagus spears that looked interesting. I decided if the dish turned out well, I’d serve it at Easter. The night I made these, they didn’t even make it to the table. We stood in the kitchen and ate the whole plate of them.
When Easter rolled around, I decided to do steamed asparagus instead because we had the oven tied up with a pork loin and a potato casserole. And I promptly forgot about the crispy little sticks.
This weekend, my husband saw Guy Fieri making them on TV and suggested we try them again. Guy’s recipe was a little different from the one on Pinterest.
We made them Sunday night and they were good, but not quite as crunchy as the first ones. But they did have a bit more flavor.
So, I’ve taken the best of both recipes and combined them into the one you see below. Please note that my son, who doesn’t care for asparagus, voluntarily put two of these on his plate and ate them both without complaint.

Crispy Asparagus Spears
1 pound medium asparagus
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon water
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 cup seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Prepare the asparagus by trimming off the tough woody stems.
Whip egg whites, water and mayonnaise together. In a separate dish, combine panko, Parmesan, paprika, salt and pepper. Dip each asparagus spear in the egg wash and then coat evenly in the seasoned panko breadcrumbs. Place the spears on a wire rack over a baking sheet and spray lightly with cooking spray.
Bake until golden and crispy, 15 to 17 minutes. Serve immediately.
Ginna Parsons is the Daily Journal’s food/home/garden editor.