Roasted Asparagus with Panko-Anchovy Topping

9 Jun


For those occasions when fresh roasted asparagus needs an extra little sparkle, try this crunchy, salty topping. I love cooking with panko – if you have not tried it yet, this is your chance. This Japanese-style bread crumb consists of larger, crispier pieces that will stay light when you cook with them rather than getting soggy or cakey. And do not let anchovies intimidate you – try cooking with them now and then and enjoy the deep briny flavor – never add salt when you are working with anchovy – taste the dish first!

I tried halving the recipe because it seemed like it would make too much. This did not go well. I recommend using the ratio below to ensure the oil heating, anchovies dissolving, and garlic and panko browning are all in sync. Let me know if you think if ideas for leftovers – the recipe makes about 1 cup of topping, and you probably will need about 1/2 cup for 2 bunches of asparagus (Update: What about using it to top a caesar salad, instead of croutons? Yum!). And a final word of caution: Whatever you do, do not walk away while the oil is heating, to take pictures of asparagus on your balcony.


– 2 bunches of asparagus, freshly roasted (do not add salt or pepper!)
– 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
– 7 anchovy filets
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1 c panko
– 1 T fresh parsley OR 1 t dried parsley
– zest from one lemon
– juice from one lemon

How do I make it?

  • While the asparagus is roasting, heat the olive oil and anchovies in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the anchovies are almost dissolved.
  • Remove from heat and stir in the garlic for 30 seconds. It should brown pretty quickly in the hot oil.
  • Add the panko and stir until golden. Again, it should brown pretty quickly.
  • Stir in the parsley and lemon zest.
  • Place the cooked asparagus on a plate or platter, and top with some lemon juice and the panko-anchovy topping.

Serving Tips:

Experiment with serving this on a platter to be passed, or individually plating it. Your guests may want to top the asparagus themselves – try serving the topping on the side. Although this dish is great hot and crunchy off the stove, you can also make this in advance and refrigerate it for up to a few hours. I would bring it to room temperature before serving.

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