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Roasted asparagus topped with creamy parmesan sauce and crispy prosciutto bits will steal the show at your next dinner party.
I like to break out the nice dishes. I love linen dinner napkins, the good silver, stemmed water glasses and a pretty decanter for wine. Yes to two forks, bread plates, fresh flowers and an array of little votive candles twinkling on the table with the lights turned soft and dim. It’s time to host a dinner party.
There are those that believe that the good china shouldn’t leave the cabinet; that it’s too precious to use when hosting a dinner party. Maybe it’s the dread of hand-washing (mine goes straight into the dishwasher) or perhaps it’s stored in an inconvenient place (I have some friends 15 years married and it’s still packed away from the wedding.) But I am not one of those people. If I’m taking up valuable cabinet real estate, then it better be worth it.
It’s the same philosophy that I apply to my closet and the rooms in my home. A couple of times each year, I do a once over of my closet and drawers. (Some say compulsive, I say um, organized.) Hasn’t touched my body in two seasons? See ya later. I’ve even whittled down my “of course I’ll get back into those” stack of jeans to just a couple of inspirational pairs. I’m also all about using every room in the house. The dining room isn’t called the “walking by and admiring room”. So we actually eat in there from time to time. And the formal living room? Nothing formal about it once we faced the fact that it needs a TV on the wall for any living being in my family to actually spend time in there. My feeling is if you have the space, then use it. And if you have the pretty dishes, crystal glasses and unique serving pieces…make them earn their keep!
It doesn’t take much to inspire me to host a dinner party. As much as I love a beer and snack-y get together around the kitchen island, sometimes it’s fun to be all grown up and serve a multi-course meal in the dining room. A real napkin-in-your-lap, which-fork-do-I-use kind of night. I have almost as much fun planning the menu and setting the table as I do at the party iteself. And just because you’re using the good plates, it doesn’t mean you’re auditioning for Top Chef. A well planned dinner party isn’t about mushroom foams and ring molds, it’s about well-timed courses and crafting a menu that will appeal to your guests.
Asparagus is one of my go-to vegetable sides when I’m menu planning. Something about those long, tapered spears just feels elegant. And to make it a little special, I top it with a creamy parmesan sauce and crumbled bits of crispy prosciutto. It comes together very easily, yet isn’t a dish you would make every night. It’s vibrant in both presentation and flavor and perfect for company. So drag out the good dishes, dust off the nice glasses and make your guest list. Because we’re hosting a dinner party.
- 1 lb bunch of asparagus woody ends trimmed
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp lemon zest
- Salt and pepper
- 1 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 garlic clove slightly crushed
- 3/4 cup milk whole is preferable, but you can use low fat if you prefer
- 2 oz Parmesan cheese grated
- 1/8 lb prosciutto sliced
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Lay asparagus spears on a parchment lined sheet tray. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and lemon zest.
Line another sheet tray with parchment and lay the prosciutto slices in a single layer.
Place both trays in the oven and roast for a about 10-12 mins, flipping the prosciutto slices once. Roast until asparagus spears are tender and beginning to brown and prosciutto is crispy. The prosciutto may finish before the asparagus, so keep an eye on it as it cooks.
Allow the prosciutto to cool slightly and crumble.
in a small saucepan placed over medium heat, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook for 2-3 minutes, whisking frequently. Slowly pour in the milk while continuously whisking and add the crushed garlic clove. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and stir in the parmesan cheese.
Cook until the sauce is thick and creamy and the cheese is fully melted, about 3 minutes.
Remove garlic clove and pour sauce over the asparagus and sprinkle with the crumbled prosciutto.