This deliciously decadent Asparagus Au Gratin cooks the vegetable simply, then smothers it in cheesy goodness. It's the most respectful way to treat a vegetable, as far as I'm concerned. Right up there with roasting. Roasting and cheese. I do that with all my favorite veggies.
Make this au Gratin recipe when asparagus is in season!
Asparagus is in season in the U.S. from January-June, with most of the crop being available from March-June out of California. We actually don't grow much asparagus anymore - most of it is imported. So I try to make the most of asparagus season when I can get fresh stalks from farmers markets and grocery stores that buy from local growers.
About different asparagus varieties:
Unless you find a specialty grower or grow it yourself, you're pretty much looking at green asparagus in the U.S. It also grows in purple and white varieties, and the flavor difference is substantial. White asparagus is really mild, purple asparagus is a little sweeter and the stalks are very hearty.
For this Asparagus Au Gratin recipe, look for pencil thin, bright green stalks if you can find them. We're looking to flash-cook them, hit them with some cheese, get it toasty, and eat it up.
Is au Gratin gluten-free?
No, au Gratin recipes are not generally gluten-free, unless they are made that way specifically. That's because au Gratin sauces are often thickened with flour and topped with breadcrumbs.
You can make gluten-free Asparagus or Potatoes au Gratin by using gluten-free flour blend or cassava flour in the creamy cheese sauce, and GF breadcrumbs.
Making Asparagus au Gratin grain-free, and other swaps:
You can make this recipe grain-free easily, by swapping the flour blend for cassava flour. You could also add a little spice with some chili powder in the sauce, or some color & flavor by tossing a thinly sliced red bell pepper in with the asparagus. I prefer to use my favorite bandage-wrapped cheddar from Fiscalini (it made Oprah's favorites) and call it good. But you feel free to make it your own.
Just make sure to tag me when you post a photo of your new-favorite-vegetable-recipe, would you? And now that you trust me, try my Crazy Delicious Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad next.
Asparagus au Gratin
- 2 pounds thin asparagus
- 2 ½ cups gluten-free vegetable broth
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons gluten-free flour blend or cassava flour
- ¾ cup Parmesan cheese grated and divided
- ½ cup White Cheddar cheese shredded
- Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat broiler on High. Line broiler safe baking dish (7 x 11 pan is best) with paper towels or a lint free kitchen cloth. Slice the woody ends off the asparagus and discard them.
- Bring broth to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add asparagus stalks to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender, 2-4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to paper/cloth-lined baking dish. Pour remaining broth into a heat-safe liquid measuring cup. If liquid does not read 1 ¼-cup mark, add water until it does.
- Melt butter in now empty skillet over medium heat. Add flour blend and cook, stirring constantly until golden, about 1-3 minutes, depending on your blend. Whisk in reserved broth and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until thickened, 3-5 minutes. Off heat, whisk in ½ cup Parmesan and White Cheddar until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Remove paper towels from baking dish. Drizzle sauce over center of asparagus and top with remaining Parmesan. Broil until cheese is golden and asparagus is tender, 4-8 minutes. Serve.
Photos: Meg van der Kruik
Seriously. Who doesn't want an extra helping of au gratin asparagus?
Now that you've mastered this fresh asparagus recipe, try these:
In addition to being delicious served over asparagus the crunchy fresh herb sauce in this recipe from Alison @ A Girl Defloured is delicious over grilled seafood, especially salmon, or chicken.
Frequently Asked Questions about Asparagus & au Gratin:
Asparagus is in season in the U.S. from January-June, with most of the crop being available from March-June out of California.
The United States doesn't grow much asparagus anymore - most of it is imported.
Asparagus makes your pee smell due to asparagusic acid, which is found exclusively in asparagus. When you eat asparagus, the asparagusic acid gets broken down into sulfur byproducts during digestion. As anyone who has ever smelled a rotten egg knows - sulfur is stinky. The sulfur byproducts evaporate into the air almost as soon as you begin to pee, which is why you can smell them. That's the scoop on "asparagus pee."
No, Potatoes au Gratin are not generally gluten-free, unless they are made that way specifically. That's because au Gratin sauce is often thickened with flour and the dish is topped with breadcrumbs.
Gluten-free Potatoes au Gratin can be made by using gluten-free flour blend or cassava flour in the sauce, and GF breadcrumbs.
Au gratin means "by grating" in French, or "with crust." It's from the verb gratter, "to scrape, scratch, or grate." An au Gratin sauce is made of cheese and butter and thickened with flour or cream, and then broiled - usually with breadcrumbs added - to make a crust on the top of whatever the sauce is covering.
An au Gratin is made of cheese and butter and usually thickened with flour or cream, then broiled - usually with breadcrumbs - to make a crust on the top of whatever the sauce is covering.
The flavor of au gratin is toasty cheese and butter, usually with a carb-y element, like potatoes or breadcrumbs.