Asparagus season is as fleeting as a junior high romance. So, it’s essential to eat as much fresh asparagus as you can, while you can because when it’s over, it’s over! Asparagus is at its peak right now. So, today I’d like to share an old asparagus recipe I tracked down after half a century. It was served at my wedding reception way back in 1970.
Our small wedding was at 10:00 in the morning. Two of my mom’s good friends hosted a brunch reception for us at one of their homes. All three of them were young widows. Their friendship sustained them through many milestone events like holidays, proms, graduations, and my wedding.
The menu that morning included a delicious asparagus and egg casserole. I asked if the dish had a name, and one of the hostesses, Mary Ruth, laughed and said, “asparagus glop.” I didn’t give that another thought until recently; now that I write about food, I became determined to find out if there ever was an actual recipe. There is! It’s a golden oldie but a real goodie. Let me tell you how I found it!
Mary Ruth’s daughter Mary Louise graduated from high school with me. (Everyone seemed to have middle names back then.) On a whim, I called her and asked if she knew about asparagus glop. She asked me what was in it. The question intrigued her, and she began going through her mom’s ponderous recipe collection.
Amazingly, it did not take her long to find a recipe card with the heading Asparagus and Egg Casserole (not glop.) The sole content of the card was this: Charleston Cookbook p. 141. The hunt was on.
Asparagus And Egg Casserole Recipe From 1950 Found In The Pages Of Charleston Receipts
I expected I’d have to look harder. But, instead, the speed of my Internet search astonished me. Apparently, Charleston Receipts is highly prized, a beloved cookbook. It is the oldest Junior League cookbook still in print!
Of course, I ordered a used copy, and I’m reading it like a novel, the way I read all my favorite recipe books! I am smitten! The book I received is the 25th printing from 1986; that’s why the page number in my copy is different from the one on Mary Ruth’s recipe card. The recipe in my edition appears on page 172.
I took a few liberties with the asparagus recipe. I did not use canned asparagus, and I increased the amount of white sauce. Finally, I made the buttered crumbs in my food processor. Nevertheless, it’s as delicious as I remembered and so easy to make. It is a delightful, lovely dish to serve at a brunch!
The Best Casserole Starts With Fresh Asparagus And Great Farm Eggs
You’ll need about a pound of the freshest, plumpest asparagus you can find. Steam it lightly for about 2 minutes. It should be a little crisp. Then, cut it into pieces about 2 or 2 1/2 inches long and put it into a sprayed baking dish.
Farm eggs or free-range eggs have outstanding flavor and the sunniest, most beautiful deep yellow yolks! Hard-cooked eggs are a snap in an Instant Pot. Cook up a dozen; they are great to have on hand for salads or snacking. For this casserole, you will need four.
Please don’t judge. I left my eggs in the Instant Pot a teeny bit too long this time! Shhh! I’ll hide the telltale rings under the sauce! Slice the eggs and layer them over the asparagus. Add seasoned salt and pepper to taste.
Here’s How To Whip Up Some Smooth Rich And Creamy White Sauce
Melt 1/4 cup real butter in a heavy saucepan, then whisk in 1/4 cup flour. Whisk and cook this until it’s bubbly and everything is well blended. Next, whisk in 2 cups of whole milk. Continue cooking, constantly whisking, until it’s thickened to a gravy-like consistency. If it gets too thick, thin it with a little milk or cream and season to taste with salt and pepper, if you like.
Now, pour the white sauce over the eggs and asparagus. Use a rubber spatula to work in the sauce.
Put a cup or so of grated sharp cheddar cheese on top. Grate your own cheese from a block of good sharp cheddar; it has much better flavor and melts better than pre-shredded cheese. Add parsley for color if you like. I always like it! 😉
It’s so easy to make great buttered crumbs in a food processor. Tear about six slices of day-old bread or buns into pieces and toss them in the hopper. I keep the last few pieces from a loaf in the freezer when it starts to get stale. Heels work great!
Pulse until it all turns into crumbs, add about four tablespoons of soft butter and pulse some more until it’s all blended. Use what you need and keep the rest in a freezer bag to top mac and cheese or other casseroles!
Sprinkle buttered crumbs lavishly over the cheese.
Then, pop the casserole in a 350-degree oven for about 20 to 30 minutes until the cheese melts. The cheese will be melty, and both the cheese and the crumbs will be lightly browned.
Spoon onto a plate and serve with toast and fruit for a memorable brunch! Bacon, ham, or sausage would also be a delicious addition to the menu.
Give Your Brunch That Eggstra Punch With 3 Or More Jazzy Add-Ins
This dish is rich and satisfying. I love it just the way it is. But, for those of you who like a little more pizzazz, you may want to add a little Tabasco sauce, mustard, or red pepper flakes. Worcestershire sauce might add some punch, too! You might consider serving condiments on the side so each person can jazz it up how they want it!
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, lightly steamed and cut into pieces about 2 to 2 1/2 inches long
- Four hard-cooked eggs, sliced
- 2 cups medium white sauce
- 1 cup (or more) sharp cheddar cheese, grated
- 1/2 to 3/4 cups buttered crumbs
- Parsley for color, optional
- White sauce:
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- Buttered Crumbs:
- Six slices of day-old bread, torn into pieces
- 4 Tbsp softened butter
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Butter or spray a 2-quart baking dish.
- Steam asparagus lightly and cut into pieces about 2" to 2 1/2" long. Put it in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Slice the hard-cooked eggs and layer them on top of the asparagus. Add seasoned salt and pepper to taste.
- Make the white sauce by melting 1/4 cup of butter in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in 1/4 cup of flour and cook until it's bubbly and well blended. Gradually add two cups of milk and constantly whisk until you achieve the desired gravy-like consistency. If it gets too thick, thin it with a little milk or cream.
- Spoon the sauce over the eggs and asparagus and work it in with a rubber spatula.
- Grate 1 cup (or more if you like) of sharp cheddar cheese and scatter it over the casserole. Add parsley if you want for color.
- Pulse the bread in a food processor until crumbs form. Add butter and continue to pulse until the butter is all incorporated.
- Sprinkle buttered crumbs on top of the cheese.
- Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melty and lightly browned. The crumbs should also look toasty brown.
Brunch is awesome! What a terrific invention! That magic part of the morning between too late for breakfast and too early for lunch is the perfect time to indulge in something rich and delicious because, after all, you will only eat two meals today! 😉 Are you with me?
What is your very favorite thing to eat at brunch?
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