Thursday, June 26, 2008

Using up more fresh asparagus...

Are you still finding good fresh green asparagus spears? We picked up some more from the local market as we are trying to make the most use out of the season as we can. While we love a simple roasted asparagus (especially drizzled with balsamic vinegar), those spears also worked well in a casserole like this quite un-photogenic(!) Potato-Ham Bake we made for dinner tonight.

This dish layers together buttery Yukon gold potatoes, chopped ham and sliced asparagus while filling in the empty spaces with a lighter take on a creamy sauce. To loosen up the light cream cheese spread, we heated it with a bit of milk and a little Parmesan cheese. The mixture smooths out fairly quick over medium-low heat and the sauce is then given an interesting twist by adding chopped fresh tarragon. Since we sliced the potatoes and pre-cooked them in some boiling salted water, the assembled dish doesn't require too much baking time. Before taking the casserole out, the dish is sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese for a sharp element to the crusty top.

The potatoes were tender, yet managed to keep their integrity and held together quite well. Once I had divided all the portions out, there was a little layer of the sauce left behind in the baking dish which I just spooned over each serving to ensure each stayed very moist. Be sure to grab the cream cheese spread that is already flavored with chive and onion for an extra boost in flavor. Between the cooked ham and Parmesan, I thought there would have been enough salt, but I did sprinkle a little coarse sea salt on top of my serving (Jeff did the same) as we felt the potatoes just needed a little extra oomph. The one thing I would do differently next time would be to heat the bits of ham in a skillet to caramelize them before adding the pieces to the dish. While the ham was fine as is, that extra depth would have been a nice bonus to this updated casserole bake.


  1. Oh great. Another fabulous potato recipe that I can't resist! I never thought about using cream cheese spread as a sauce, now all kinds of ideas are going through my head for this. Would the dish suffer without the tarragon?

    I could eat asparagus every day I think - I grow them - this year the harvest was terrific.

  2. Quinn - I liked the freshness the tarragon brought! I envy your asparagus growing - I hope to grow some of our own one day.