Katherine Titterington | Rusk County EC
A combination of bright, tangy and savory flavors creates a satisfying sandwich. Coating the bread with onion-infused olive oil highlights and complements each ingredient. Feel free to use the thin, tender stems in addition to the asparagus tips (or slice thicker stems into 1/4-inch diagonal slices).
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
4–5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch (about 1 1/4 cups) asparagus tips, fresh or frozen
6 ounces chèvre (soft goat cheese)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
8 thick slices Italian bread
1. Sauté the onion in 2–3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until caramelized (about 10–12 minutes), then remove from heat. Add remaining olive oil to the pan and stir to infuse it with the onion flavor.
2. Meanwhile, blanch asparagus tips in salted water until just tender, 1–2 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse with cold water then place them on a plate lined with paper towels to dry.
3. Using a fork, combine the chèvre and buttermilk until soft and smooth. Spread a thin layer of cheese on each slice of bread, then divide asparagus and onions evenly between four slices and top with remaining bread. Brush the remaining onion oil on the outside of the bread (adding more olive oil to pan if needed).
4. Grill the sandwiches on a panini press or with flat-sided waffle iron until cheese is melted and bread toasted.
For the best flavor, season the onions and asparagus with salt and pepper to taste before assembling sandwich. Consider adding chopped fresh basil, mint or parsley to the goat cheese spread, or adding a layer of olive purée (tapenade) or pickled hot peppers to the sandwich. If you don’t have a panini press, cook the sandwiches in a cast-iron skillet, top them with a layer of parchment or aluminum foil then weigh them down with an additional skillet.