Phyllo-wrapped asparagus with pan-seared polenta bruschetta and a simple salad.
Ever since my suger-free birthday, I’ve had half a package of phyllo dough just chillin’ in the freezer (nyuk nyuk), waiting on inspiration.
enter stage left: asparagus everywhere
But of course! What better way to feature this flaky pastry, than to encrust a delicate and delicious asparagus spear? Add a little toasty seed, a little tangy citrus, and you’ve got a sterling seasonal side dish. Just remember to hurry, because asparagus comes in fast and furious, and it’ll be gone before you know it. So what are you waiting for? Get thee to a farmers market, stat!
bundle of asparagus – about 20 stems
1/2 package of phyllo dough (Athens brand is vegan, as are most others)
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon sesame oil + more for finishing
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
zest from 1 lemon
Firstly, you’ll need to thaw your phyllo dough, which may take a few hours. After it’s thawed, let it rest on the kitchen countertop under a damp towel, to prevent it from drying out.
Now, put on an awesomely fun vegan cooking podcast to keep you company.
Begin by toasting your sesame seeds. In a small dry pan, roast the sesame seeds over medium heat, just until they begin to brown. Transfer to a small dish and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine the sesame oil, lemon juice, maple syrup, and half of the lemon zest, finely chopping it before you add it in. Whisk to mix well.
Now, peel off the top sheet of phyllo and slice it into four equal, long rectangular pieces. Don’t forget to re-cover the phyllo stack so it doesn’t dry out! Brush each piece of phyllo with enough of the mixture to thoroughly coat, and then sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Place an asparagus stalk at one end of the phyllo strip, and begin rolling it up. Angle at a slight diagonal and roll as tightly as possible. These will get prettier as you adjust to the technique.
Repeat until all your asparagus is nicely swaddled in sesame lemon phyllo. Place all the rolls on a plate or two, and refrigerate for about an hour. Keep them covered with a damp towel or saran wrap.
Preheat oven to 425º.
Remove the rolls from the fridge and transfer them to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with some more sesame seeds and half of the remaining lemon zest, and drizzle with any remaining oil/lemon juice mixture (there may not be any left, which is fine).
Bake for 20 minutes or so, until the phyllo darkens and flakes.
Finish these off on the plate with a drizzle of sesame oil, and then garnish with the last of the lemon zest. I served them with a sesame soy dipping sauce made from [1 tablespoon sesame oil + 1 tablespoon soy sauce + some finely diced ginger + a sprinkle of sesame seeds]. It was very good.