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"There was a mountain of grated Parmesan cheese" ... This sentence is drawn from Giovanni Boccaccio’s Decameron, written around 1350. He is describing the Land of Abundance. Two centuries later, during the Renaissance, Parmesan cheese was one the favourite dishes of the Ottoman Empire and Venetian merchants got richer and richer, by loading Parmesan cheese wheels on the galleys heading for Constantinople. Its thousand-year old, worldwide success is easy to understand: you just have to taste a bite. A great protagonist, Parmesan cheese can both play the role of the lead actor, at the table, and the supporting actor for pastas, risottos, soufflés, soups, side dishes, jam, honey, etc. What else? Try it in this pie, with an asparagus sauce!
1 bunch of asparagus
140g/4.9oz fresh cream
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 ladle vegetable broth
1 cup white wine
evo oil q.s.
salt, pepper q.s.
Whisk the eggs with the cream, the Parmesan cheese and the grated rind of a lemon in a large measuring cup. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste. Keep the butter at room temperature for a while, then butter the inner sides of a sufficient number of molds to contain all the mixture and coat them with breadcrumbs. Pour the mixture into the molds and bake in the static oven at a 160°C/320°F temperature for 20 minutes in a bain-marie, if you want to brown your small pies, or at a 140°C/285°F temperature for 35 minutes, in a bainmarie, if you want them softer.
To prepare the sauce, clean the asparagus with a potato peeler and cut them into small pieces. A tip: cut the asparagus tips, quickly parboil them and set them aside for the decoration. Sauté the roughly chopped shallot with the asparagus on a gas hob, in a pan, with a little olive oil, for about 2 minutes. Pour the wine and let it evaporate, cover with broth and cook until the asparagus become soft, then blend with a mixer.
Add the thyme leaves and season with salt and pepper. Pour a ladle of sauce onto each plate, unmold the small pies, decorate them as you prefer and serve them.