1 pound Asparagus
1 teaspoon salt (for boiling asparagus)
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
½ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon Pepper
2 cloves of Garlic, thickly sliced
2 Tablespoons Pine Nuts, toasted
¼ teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes
3 Tablespoons white Wine
2 Tablespoons Chicken Stock
2 ounces Cream Cheese, cut into 3 chunks, or mascarpone cheese
2 Tablespoons Parmesan
4 Ciabatta rolls (white dust on top, crusty top and light inside), about 4 -5 inches long OR a 4 -5 inch length of a soft baguette.
1 whole clove of garlic, peeled
½ pound of Prosciutto or ham, very thinly sliced
4 large leaves of Romaine lettuce
Panino al Prosciutto e Crema D'asparagi
Toast Pine Nuts: Lay pine nuts on a cookie sheet. Place in a 350-degree oven for 5 - 6 minutes, until light golden brown. Watch carefully so they do not burn. Remove from cookie sheet to cool. Set aside. (Alternatively, you can heat the pine nuts in a dry saute pan on the top of the stove until light brown. Remove from pan and cool. Set aside.)
Make Asparagus Cream:
Trim asparagus by cutting or snapping off the woody ends of the stalk. If the asparagus spear is thick, peel the lower half with a vegetable peeler.
Place the trimmed spears in a shallow layer on the bottom of a large, deep saute pan. Cover with just enough water to cover the spears. Add 1 teaspoon salt to the water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until fork tender, about 5 minutes (time will vary depending upon thickness of the spears).
Remove the spears from the pan, discard the cooking water and wipe the pan dry.
Cut the tips off the spears and set aside (we will put these on the sandwich later). Cut the remainder of the stalk into ½ inch pieces.
In the dry pan, heat 2 Tablespoons of the oil. Over medium high heat, add the ½ inch asparagus pieces, salt, pepper, garlic, pine nuts and red pepper flakes and saute for 3 - 4 minutes.
Add the white wine and reduce for 2 -3 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone. Add the chicken stock and reduce for another 2 - 3 minutes until liquid is mostly gone.
Turn off heat. Spoon contents of pan into the bowl of a food processor (use a spatula to get out all the contents of the pan) and process for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the cream cheese. Process until well combined. Add the Parmesan cheese and process until well combine. Refrigerate to cool. (You should have about 1 generous cup).
To assemble the sandwich:
Slice the roll in half, lengthwise. Toast lightly - open faced. Rub the toasted inside of the roll with the garlic clove, gently.
Spead 1 Tablespoon of the asparagus cream on each side of the bread. Lay 1 ounce of the prosciutto on top of the cream, folding each piece over itself to create a ribboned effect (it will look like a ruffle from the side). Dab a bit more of the asparagus cream on top of the Prosciutto. Lay ¼ of the reserved cooked asparagus tips on top of the Prosciutto. Top with the second ounce of Prosciutto, also delicately folded as above, then a leaf of romaine lettuce, torn to fit the roll. Cover with the top half of the roll.
If you have leftover asparagus spread, it will make a nice hors d'hoeuvre spread on top of crostini, with an asparagus tip or a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.