Did You Know? Under ideal conditions, an asparagus spear can grow 10" in a 24-hour period, and will continue to produce spears for 15-20 years without being replanted.
We had some leftover breadcrumbs from a dinner my mom made the other day, so I thought I would put them to use in a quick side dish that would be a good addition to any meal. I used asparagus here, because if I kept it in the fridge any longer it would have gone bad, but I'm sure any vegetable would work. Broccoli is always nice with a little crunch, brussels sprouts (now that I've convinced you how tasty they are), potatoes (roasted or twice-baked), squash, any pasta dish (mac & cheese anyone?), you get the idea.
Usually I try to look for spears that are on the skinny side. I think they taste better and they crisp up a lot nicer, but they only had pretty thick ones at the grocery store, so that's what I ended up with. Anyways, this is a really simple dish, but the flavors are in no way lacking. I love the crunch that panko provides. They are a much needed upgrade from regular old crumbs. If you're not familiar with panko, they are a Japanese breadcrumb, with a much coarser texure than its Italian counterpart. The toasted pecan bits round everything out, giving this side a real roasted flavor. So if you're in need of something simple to finish off your next meal, I suggest you start here...
1 bunch asparagus spears (around 15 or so)
2 tablespoons walnut oil (feel free to use olive or grapeseed, I just took this whole dish down the nut route)
1/4 cup panko crumbs
2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
1 teaspoons dried parsley
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Rinse asparagus under water, pat dry, and snap off the tough ends.
Arrange spears on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil, salt, and pepper.
In a separate bowl, combine panko, pecans, parsley, and a little more salt and pepper.
Sprinkle the panko-pecan mixture over the spears, and transfer the baking sheet to the oven. My asparagus was on the thick side, so I roasted mine for about 20 minutes. If yours are more slender, I would only do about 15 minutes or so.