‘Recipe Development’: Asparagus Coins

Recipe development. It sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Formal too.

I am an experienced home cook. I have made up countless dishes, but never sat around to engage in recipe development. I suppose there comes a time in every cook’s life when a recipe needs to be created. Not the free-styling recipe that comes about when you substitute every ingredient from a recipe with something that seems to be from the same family and you roast instead of grilling and blanch instead of steaming, achieving a final dish that the creator of the recipe could never possibly recognize. No, not that kind of recipe development but the conscious, purposeful, documented kind.

My urge to develop a recipe came when I was invited to to do a cooking demonstration for Colorado Foodie Fest. This group was knowledgeable. I couldn’t just pull a recipe out of a book- they would have caught on to that very quickly. The theme I picked was asparagus. I was to do three dishes- I had two of them down and needed a third. I knew what I liked: the texture of peeled asparagus. I knew what I was desperately sick of- asparagus spears, grilled or roasted, wrapped in prosciutto, topped with an egg. I wanted this new dish to be surprising and flavorful, yet simple.

The pieces came together. Asparagus was peeled and cut into thick coins. Flavor came from the crisped prosciutto, the lemon, and the shallots. The surprise was in texture- that of the asparagus, but also the varied sized of minced lemon shallot, and prosciutto flakes. Simplicity came from how the asparagus was cooked- quickly sauteed, preserving its integrity and crunch. This was the most liked of three dishes I cooked. That made me happy.

Asparagus Coins

Ingredients: 1 pound asparagus; 1/3 pound Prosciutto de Parma; 1 medium shallot, minced; the peel from one large lemon, minced and 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice; 1/4 cup olive oil, salt to taste (coarse kosher salt for cooking and fleur de sel for finishing).

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the prosciutto slices on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or on a Silpat. When the oven is ready put the prosciutto in and bake for about 10 minutes. Check at 8 minutes and rotate. If after 10 minutes, the prosciutto does not appear much drier and almost crispy, cook longer. Cooking time depends a lot on the accuracy of your oven, the surface you cook the prosciutto on, and the thinness of the prosciutto slices. When ready, break the now0-crispy prosciutto slices into 1/2 inch to 1 inch bits. Reserve in a bowl.

Peel the asparagus, trim the ends and tips, and discard. Cut the asparagus into 1/4 inch coins and reserve.

Prepare the shallot- peel and mince very small. Same for the lemon peel, except try mincing it a little smaller.

Pour the olive oil in a medium sauce-pan over medium heat. Add the asparagus and a sprinkle of salt and swirl it well in the pan making sure the coins are coated with the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes until the asparagus is a bright lively green color. The coins should be cooked but still have a crunch. Salt to taste and add just a dash of lemon juice.

Place the asparagus on the plates and add to each individual serving, the minced shallot, minced lemon, and bits of prosciutto. Adding these to the individual plates keeps their texture intact, unaffected by the temperature of the asparagus or the liquid released through the cooking of the asparagus.

Serve with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and a drizzle of a great olive oil.

Photography by Jennifer Olson.

Related posts:

  1. Spring Asparagus Soup
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  • Ruth Tobias


  • AML

    What a fun, fresh dish. Peeled asparagus, and lemon is such a nice combination of flavors to give with the crispy prosciutto. Good one. I'll have to try that prosciutto thing. Sounds cool.

  • Charmaine @ Speakeasy Kitchen

    Nice. I like the departure from the usual asparagus spears.

  • Isabelle

    What a clever and original way of preparing asparagus.
    I have to admit I'm guilty of falling into the same old rut when it comes to asparagus – whole spears, steamed or grilled, dressed with a little lemon and butter. This sounds like a wonderful change from the usual, especially with the crispy bits of prosciutto for contrast!

  • The Mom Chef

    Bravo on your recipe, fully and absolutely developed by you! What a wonderful feeling. It is an awesome dish too. Great job.

  • Cooking Rookie

    So fresh and healthy!

  • Spice Sherpa

    Well developed! Colorful, attractive and fresh. That's the kind of thing I'd make…following your recipe of course…then play with the spices. My question: Since the asparagus is peeled it seems you're using larger, older spears. I'm so pleased to find something to do with the older ones. Once they get too big I stop buying them.

    BTW–Mark Bittman has a recipe for asparagus soup. Pureed asparagus and broth with tarragon. Simple and delic. Your contribution ranks right up there!