Toasted Asparagus and Cheese Sandwiches

A decadent way to serve asparagus.  This simple cheese sauce is also perfect for homemade mac and cheese (at its heart, this is bechamel).  

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  20 minutes
Serves:  4-6


Sliced bread, your favorite

For the cheese sauce
1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons whole wheat (or white) flour
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup shredded asiago, provolone, or cheddar (or a mix).

For the asparagus
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fresh asparagus, woody ends snapped off.

Heat the milk in a small saucepan, or in the microwave, so that it is hot but not boiling.   While milk is heating, melt the butter in another saucepan over medium heat, and stir in the flour.  Cook, stirring, for 2 minutes or until the mixture becomes thick and bubbly.  Slowly stir in the milk, stirring.  Cook for a minute or two, then stir in the shredded cheese, salt, and pepper.  Stir for another 2 minutes or until the sauce is thick and the cheese is melted.  Remove from heat.

Toast the bread.  While bread is toasting, heat the olive oil in a saute pan or skillet over medium-low heat and cook the asparagus for 4 minutes, turning once or twice, or until the asparagus is tender crisp.  Remove asparagus from pan.

Set out toasted bread on serving plates.  Top one slice with a layer of cheese sauce, and nestle asparagus spears into the cheese.  Top with the remaining piece of toast, and serve.

Photo and recipe by Tod Dimmick

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