Recipes Appetizers & Drinks Gussied Up Asparagus

Cured Ham and Asparagus Pizza

• 8 ounces asparagus
• 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
• 1 large onion, cut into thin wedges
• 1 to 2 tablespoons dry sherry
• 1 teaspoon cornmeal
• 1 13.8-ounce package refrigerated pizza dough
• 1 cup bottled roasted garlic Alfredo sauce or regular alfredo sauce
• 1-1/2 cups cubed ham (8 ounces)
• 1-1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (6 ounces)

Snap off and discard woody portions of asparagus. Cut into 1-inch pieces.

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. Add onion and asparagus. Cook and stir for 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are almost tender. Stir in sherry. Cook and stir for 2 more minutes. Set aside.

Heat oven to 425 F. Grease a 12- or 13-inch pizza pan. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Pat pizza dough into pan, rounding corners of dough rectangle to fit pan and building up edges. If desired, snip edges with kitchen shears. Bake about 7 minutes or until lightly browned.

Spread crust with Alfredo sauce. Top with vegetable mixture and ham. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes more or until golden. Let stand 5 minutes before cutting and serving.

Asparagus Wraps

• 1 pound fresh asparagus
• 8 ounces bottled Italian salad dressing
• 1 pound bacon (10 to 12 slices) or 12 thin slices of proscuito
• 1/2 cup shreaded cheese (optional)

Cut 1 to 2 inches off bottom of asparagus spears. Place in large zip top plastic bag. Pour Italian salad dressing in bag with asparagus. Close bag and marinate for at least 1 hour in refrigerator.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 400 F. Wrap each asparagus stalk with slice of proscuito or one slice of bacon (slice bacon lengthwise if preferred). Place on foil lined cookie sheet. Drizzle the Italian salad dressing over the wraps.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, flip spears over and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes, until meat becomes crispy. Remove from pan. Sprinkle with shredded cheese (optional). Serve when cool.

Asparagus Pesto with Gnocchi and Ham

• 12 ounces asparagus
• 3/4 cup basil leaves
• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
• 1/3 cup walnut pieces
• 1/4 cup olive oil, or cooking oil
• 3 tablespoons water
• 1 tablespoon garlic, minced (6 cloves)
• 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
• 1 16-ounce package potato gnocchi, or 8 ounces rotini (about 4 cups)
• 2 cups ham, cubed

Snap off and discard woody portions of asparagus. Cut into 1-inch pieces. Cook asparagus in a small amount of boiling water for about 5 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool.

For pesto, in a food processor or blender, combine asparagus, basil, cheese, walnuts, olive oil, water, garlic and pepper. Cover and process or blend until nearly smooth, scraping sides occasionally. Divide pesto into thirds. Transfer two portions to freezer containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. Set aside remaining portion.

Prepare gnocchi or rotini according to package directions. Meanwhile, coat a skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Cook ham cubes in skillet until heated through. Stir remaining portion of the pesto into ham cubes; heat through. Drain gnocchi and toss with pesto-ham mixture.

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