I love the crunch of tiny bread cubes and pine nuts and the whiff of spice from nutmeg in this comforting cheesy gratin.
750g (a good 1½ lb) asparagus, trimmed Salt 2 Tbsp (30g / 1 oz) butter 1 large clove garlic, peeled and thinly sliced 2 Tbsp pine nuts Flaky sea salt Freshly ground black pepper Freshly grated nutmeg 1 cup small cubes ciabatta, pide, sourdough or grainy bread 1 cup grated emmental or cheddar cheese ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Lower asparagus into a large saucepan of gently boiling salted water and cook for 2 minutes. Drain carefully and douse with plenty of cold water to stop the cooking. Lay flat on paper towels to dry off.
2 Set a large frying pan (skillet) over medium-low heat, add butter, garlic and pine nuts. Cook until garlic and nuts are lightly golden, stirring often. Add asparagus, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg and toss well. Add bread cubes and toss again.
3 Transfer asparagus to a shallow gratin dish, scraping in all the buttery bits and bobs. Sprinkle with emmental or cheddar then parmesan. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden and crusty on top. Serve hot.
Broccolini, or broccoli, work just as well in this dish. Mushrooms can also be added, but it’s best to cook them first to get rid of any liquid. Diced ham or bacon is another good addition.
The dish can be prepared several hours ahead but is best served hot.