Planked Asparagus and Prosciutto Bundles
Makes 6 servings
This classic combination of flavors takes well to the plank and works as an appetizer, a side, or on top of a salad. If you can’t find real imported fontina, use Parmigiano Reggiano shaved into slivers. You really don’t want a flavorless cheese here.
Note: if you want to do these on your grill without a plank, use medium-high indirect heat and lay down a sheet of aluminum foil on the cooking grate so you won’t lose any cheese while the bundles are cooking.
1 plank, soaked overnight or at least 1 hour
18 choice, thick asparagus spears
1/2 lb | 250 g Italian fontina cheese, cut into thin slices
6 large slices prosciutto
1 Tbsp | 15 mL butter
balsamic reduction (optional; see sidebar page xxx)
crusty bread as an accompaniment
Trim the asparagus and blanch it in salted water for just a minute or two, until it’s deep green and still firm. Stop the cooking by immersing the spears in cold water.
Set aside 12 slices of cheese. (Use the rest of the cheese to place on top of the rolls as described below.) Spread open a slice of prosciutto and place 3 spears of asparagus on it. Place one slice of the cheese between the spears. Wrap the prosciutto around the spears and cheese. Proceed until you have 6 bundles.
Preheat the grill on medium-high for 5–10 minutes, or until the chamber temperature rises above 500°F | 260°C. Rinse the soaked plank and place it on the cooking grate. Cover the grill and heat the plank for 4–5 minutes, or until it starts to throw off a bit of smoke and crackles lightly. Reduce the heat to medium-low and place the bundles on the plank. Working quickly, place the remaining cheese slices over each bundle in a criss-cross pattern. Cook the bundles for 10–15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and a little mottled. Remove them from the grill, drizzle them with a little olive oil or brush them with the butter, and let them sit for a few minutes. Plate them individually with a few drops of balsamic reduction around the edges, if desired. Serve the bundles with crusty bread.
Grilled Parmesan Tomatoes
These tomatoes are simple to make and are a great accompaniment to your favorite steak.
Makes 8 portions
4 large ripe tomatoes
½ cup | 125 mL finely grated Parmesan cheese
¼ cup | 60 mL finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp | 10 mL granulated onion
1 tsp | 10 mL granulated garlic
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 or 10 fresh basil leaves
extra virgin olive oil
Remove the stems of the tomatoes and slice them in half, cross-wise. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on a tray or baking dish. Season the cut faces with salt and pepper and sprinkle them with granulated onion and garlic. Mix the grated Parmesan and chopped parsley in a bowl and crumble it over the tomatoes.
Prepare your grill for medium direct cooking. Carefully place the tomatoes on the cooking grate and grill for 6–8 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to soften when you squeeze them and the Parmesan topping is golden brown.
Transfer the tomatoes to a serving platter. Roll the basil leaves into a cigar shape and cut them into fine strips with a sharp knife. Sprinkle the shredded basil over the tomatoes, along with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve the tomatoes immediately.
Photo credit: Rob Baas, used with permission