This baked asparagus and cheese casserole is my mother-in-law’s recipe. It was one of her potluck favourites because it travels well and easily warms up in a microwave. And if it can’t be warmed up, it still tastes good.
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1 1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup milk
2/3 cup grated cheese (your choice; I used extra old cheddar)
1 lb fresh asparagus or 2 cans asparagus tips
optional: sliced or slivered almonds,
– thin strips of red pepper,
– crushed Ritz crackers or cornflakes
Chop washed asparagus into 2-3 inch pieces. Use 2/3 to 3/4 of stalk, leaving woody ends. Microwave pieces about 1 1/2 minutes, or steam on stovetop for 3 minutes, to partially cook them. Distribute evenly in a low greased casserole dish (I use an 8 x 8″ one).
Make white sauce by melting butter in small saucepan, add flour, stirring in well. Turn heat down and continue to stir for about 2 minutes until roux bubbles and thickens. Slowly add milk, stirring often to prevent lumps. When it starts to thicken, add cheese slowly and stir until smooth. Turn off heat.
Combine in casserole
Pour cheese sauce evenly over asparagus in casserole dish. Top with crunchy bits and red pepper if you wish. I added all of them here: a small handful of crushed cornflakes, red pepper strips and sliced almonds.
Bake at 350° for 25-30 mins, until bubbly. Serves 2 as main dish or 4 as side. You can double the recipe, using a larger dish.
Asparagus needs nothing extra to make it glorious. But baked in a cheese sauce adds flavours and textures that make it a meal all on its own. If you want it vegan, replace the dairy with soy products.