This creamy asparagus potato casserole combines the classic flavor combination of asparagus, cream and ham in a delicious casserole.
Around the end of April (sometimes a little earlier) the first harvest of the queen among the vegetables takes place: the white asparagus. Until June 24, the day of St. John, there is plenty of harvesting and you can (temporarily) enjoy this delicious vegetable.
You often see recipes passing by with a nice plate of asparagus, butter, and egg, but I thought it would be so nice to make something different. The same flavors, but presented with a twist. This time I made a casserole with asparagus. And what is also nice is that this oven dish is easy to pre-prepare. So you only have to put it in the oven when you return home.
Some background about the asparagus
Different quality of asparagus
When you walk around in the store or on the market you discover that there are different classes in asparagus. But what exactly is the difference? Asparagus must be at least 22 cm long before it can be stung. The asparagus is then sorted into three different classes: extra class, class I, and class II. But what is the difference now?
Extra asparagus class: these are asparagus that are straight and undamaged and have a thickness of 20 to 28 millimeters. This is the best quality asparagus.
Class I: These asparagus may be slightly bent and have a thickness of 16 to 20 millimeters. This is the class you will encounter most in the supermarket.
Class II: These asparagus may be more curved and have a thickness of 12 - 16 mm.
And then there is asparagus that doesn't fall into one of these three classes. They are too short, too thin, too thick, or broken. These are good to use in a soup, salad, or quiche.
How do you know if your veggie is fresh?
You can check if asparagus is fresh by moving two asparagus over each other. Fresh asparagus “squeak” when you make this move. A second check is whether the juice that gets to the bottom of the asparagus when you squeeze it lightly tastes sweet and certainly not bitter.
How many asparagus do you need per person?
That of course depends on the preparation. If you use the asparagus in a quiche or in a soup, you will encounter different amounts in recipes. But if you serve the asparagus as a vegetable side dish, you use 250 grams of asparagus per person.
How do you best clean asparagus
Of course, you start by washing the asparagus in cold water. The outside of the asparagus is a bit tougher and you remove it with a peeler (there is a lot of flavor in these peels. When you add them to the cooking water, your asparagus get even more flavor). Start to peel about 2 cm from the top and slice down. Then turn the asparagus slightly and repeat until it is completely clean. You want to have the whole asparagus peeled, otherwise, you will get a tough piece (which is really not good) after preparation. Also cut about 2 cm from the bottom, that's the hard part, which you don't eat.
You prefer to eat asparagus immediately when you buy them. But sometimes that just doesn't work out.
If you eat the asparagus within 2 to 3 days, pack them in a slightly damp towel and store them in the refrigerator. That way they don't dry out.
If you want to keep them longer, wash and peel them. Cut off the hard bottom, pat them dry and freeze them in a freezer bag or container (you don't have to blanch them). When you need them you can use them frozen (they do not need to be thawed beforehand. You can store the asparagus in the freezer for up to 3 months.
A simple asparagus preparation
If you want to serve the asparagus as a vegetable side dish, first put the peel in a pan and then the asparagus. Add so much water that the asparagus are about 2 cm below water level. Spoon 1 teaspoon of salt into the water and 1 tablespoon of butter and bring to a boil. Cook for 6 to 10 minutes (depending on the thickness) and then turn off the stove. Leave the asparagus, with the lid on the pan, for another 20 minutes to allow them to get done. Remove them from the pan and drain. You can serve them in a traditional way with a knob of butter, ham, and grated egg.
What is the difference between a white and green asparagus
In my childhood memory, I only know the white asparagus. But in recent years, green asparagus has also been on the rise. So what exactly is the difference between these asparagus (except the color).
The difference in color is caused by the way both asparagus grow. The white asparagus grows below the ground and the green asparagus grows above the ground, producing chlorophyll (also called leaf green). This changes the taste of the asparagus. The green asparagus has a more grassy taste. The white asparagus is a bit sweeter, thicker and has more fiber, and tastes less pronounced.
Although the asparagus naturally plays the main role in this oven dish, there are also other (important) ingredients. Natural butter and whipped cream for a hint of cream makes the asparagus nice and soft. Ham cubes, leek, tarragon, and parsley add flavor. And the casserole is covered with potatoes and grated cheese.
The asparagus are cut into small pieces so that all the casserole ingredients are ready at the same time.
Which potatoes are best to use for an ovendish?
It's best to use a firm-boiling potato for an oven dish. I myself used the Nicola, which cooks nicely but stays firm. But you could also use another firm boiling potato. If you want to add an extra accent to your oven dish, choose a red organic potato. You scrub it clean on the outside and then cut it into slices. That gives a very nice color accent to your potato gratin.
In this oven dish, I used boiled potatoes to make potato slices. These are boiled for 20 minutes until cooked, slightly cooled, and then sliced. You check whether the potatoes are cooked by pricking the potato with a fork when the 20-minute cooking time has passed. If your fork slides in easily, the potatoes are done.
Why are you baking the leek?
Frying the leek in butter makes it slightly sweet. It also make sure by doing this on forehand that all the ingredients in the casserole are done when the dish comes out of the oven.
Do you also dislike cleaning leeks? Sometimes it seems so difficult to remove all the sand. However, it can be very simple. In this blog, I will give you a good way to clean leeks, without too much extra work. And this method always works.
Which type of ham do you use?
There are sorts of ham which are available that has been specially flavored for eating with asparagus. You can ask your butcher for them. Very tasty of course and also highly recommended. But you can certainly also use other types of ham.
Why is ham so good with asparagus? Because the salt of the ham combines so beautifully with the sweetness of the asparagus. So it is important when choosing your ham that it is salty. And in this recipe, I prefer to use cubes of ham instead of slices of ham. This makes the taste just a bit more intense.
Help I don't have tarragon
Have you taken everything home and then you find out that you have forgotten tarragon. Super clumsy but can you replace that too? Tarragon has a light anise-like taste. In this recipe, you could also replace it with chervil, the feathers attached to the fennel tuber, fennel seed, or anise seed. And if you don't like the taste of tarragon, you can replace it with oregano (fresh or dried).
Which cheese do you use in this ovendish
The starring role in this oven dish is reserved for the asparagus. That is why you do not use pronounced cheese as a topping. Choose a young or young matured cheese and grate it finely.
Fresh parsley or dried
You add the parsley before it goes into the oven. Therefore I would use dried parsley.
Speed it up
You can get this casserole ready even faster by using pre-cooked potato slices, sliced leeks, ham cubes, and grated cheese. They're all widely available in your supermarket.
Budget friendly version
For a budget-friendly version, use canned white asparagus. You boil the potatoes yourself and slice them into potato slices. You also clean the leek yourself and cut it into thin rings. You can do this quickly and easily with the method described in this blog. Instead of ham from the meat department, you can buy canned ham.
This budget-friendly version costs € 2.00 per person.
Pre prepare this
Do you have little time tomorrow, but still want to make this casserole? No problem. You will prepare everything the night before. You can make the whole recipe until the dish has to be put in the oven. Then you cover it and put it in the refrigerator. You can do this up to two days in advance.
Since the dish comes out of the refrigerator, while preheating the oven, let it sit at room temperature for 15 to 30 minutes. Otherwise, the temperature difference for your baking dish is too great and it may burst.
You can quickly cool this asparagus casserole, cover it with plastic wrap and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.
You can also freeze this dish. Pack it airtight and store it in the freezer for up to 1 month.
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- A conventional oven is used. When using a convection oven (with air fan) decrease the temperature with 30 °F / 20 °C
- Oven dish 20 x 30 cm
- 1 kg potatoes firm-boiling
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 500 grams white asparagus
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 leeks cut into thin rings
- 200 ml cream
- ½ tablespoon tarragon
- 75 grams cheese grated, young (matured)
- 1 tablespoon parsley minced
- ½ pound ham
Ingredients you need per step are listed below the step in Italic
- Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
- Grease an oven dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.
- Peel the potatoes and cut them in half. Rinse them under running water and put in a pan.
- Fill the pan with enough water so that the potatoes are about 1 cm beneath water level.
- Add 1 teaspoon salt to the water.
- Bring the water to a boil and cook the potatoes for 20 minutes or until tender. You can check this by pricking the potatoes with a fork. If the fork slides in easy, the potatoes are done. Otherwise, extend the cooking time by 3 minutes and try again.
- Peel the asparagus with a peeler. See the tips on how to do this best. Also cut the hard bottom of the asparagus (about 2 cm from the bottom.)
- Slice the asparagus into 3 cm pieces.
- Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a frying pan.
- Add the leeks and cook the leeks for 3 minutes.
- Pour the cream with the leeks and stir well.
- Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the asparagus and tarragon to the frying pan, mix well and simmer for another 5 minutes.
- Taste now (not before because some moisture evaporates and you can make the dish to salty) and season the vegetable mixture with salt and pepper to taste.
- Divide the leek asparagus mixture over the bottom of the baking dish.
- Cut the ham into cubes (if you haven't bought ham cubes) and spread them over the leek asparagus mixture.
- Cover the dish with potato slices and sprinkle with cheese and chopped parsley.
- Bake the oven dish in the preheated oven for 15 minutes.