Asparagus and Ricotta Crostini

A quick-pickle on the asparagus keeps the spring veg snappy and just cooked through. Layer it over toasted bread and ricotta mixed with ripe-tomatoes-worthy olive oil, or save some leftovers for folding into grilled cheese, tossing into tomorrow’s salad or finely chopping into a gremolata-like relish for roasted meats.

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (about 1 pound) asparagus, halved if thicker than a pencil
  • 1 baguette or crusty Italian loaf, sliced diagonally into rounds about 1/2 –inch thick
  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • Flaky salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steps

Step 1

Preheat oven to 400F with a rack set in the center. Toss sliced bread on a large rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake until beginning to brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool slightly.

Step 2

Slice asparagus diagonally into thin coins (about 1/4–inch thick). Add to a medium heatproof bowl; zest the lemon over the top, reserving the rest of the lemon for later. Bring water, vinegar, honey, fennel seeds and remaining salt to boil in a small saucepan. Boil 30 seconds. Pour pickling liquid over asparagus and lemon zest. Cool to room temperature in the pickling liquid; drain.

Step 3

Mix ricotta with the remaining oil and spoon evenly over crostini. Top with quick-pickled asparagus. Sprinkle with flakey salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

photo by H.B. Wilcox Photography