When the season brightens and the asparagus is suddenly really good, it starts showing up in everything at my house. Creamy soup, stir-fries, pizzas, you name it. But it is easy to run out of fun ways to serve it, and start to get sick of your usual soups and stir-fries. You need a new way to use asparagus.
So, for a real treat, may I suggest wrapping each asparagus spear in filo dough, liberally sprinkled with Indian spices and toasted coconut? And serving it with a gingery Mango Chutney? I’m betting that this will be a fresh take, and one that your friends and family will fall upon like a pack of hungry wolves.
At least mine did.View Recipe
Chalk it up to the charisma of filo dough, or that bright orange mango chutney. It’s a vegetable dish that stands out from the pack. Paper-thin filo slathered with coconut oil will do that for a veggie. Just look at Spanakopita, in which spinach is wrapped in filo, and is featured on Greek restaurant menus everywhere. Filo just gives veggies curb appeal.
Asparagus is perfect for a marriage with filo. The spears are easy to wrap, and cook in the same amount of time that it takes to bake the filo. You want a medium or thick spear for this, and the number of spears in a bunch of asparagus varies widely, from 12 very thick to 30 very thin spears. Count the number in your bunch, and figure 1 sheet of dough for four spears.
If you haven’t worked with filo before, don’t be intimidated. Filo is paper thin dough, made of flour and water. The key is to prevent the amount of moisture in the dough from changing. That means thawing it slowly overnight in the refrigerator, to keep it from sweating out any moisture. Thawing the filo at room temperature can make the sheets a tiny bit damp, and they will stick together.
Once you open the package, the sheets will start to dry out when exposed to air. That is why the instructions tell you how to remove what you need, keep them covered, and re-wrap and refreeze the remaining dough. If you do this, you can save the rest of that pound of dough for another use, and often thaw and refreeze it once or twice before the sheets become brittle.
I’ve even got a recipe for Cauliflower Biryani, for those cutting back on carbs.
Happy Asparagus Season!
Coconut-Filo Asparagus with Mango Chutney
- 8sheetsfilo doughthawed
- 3/4cupchopped mango1 Champagne mango
- 1tablespoonfresh gingerchopped
- 1teaspoongrated fresh turmericor 1/4 tsp dried
- 1largeorangezested and juiced
- 2tablespoonslight brown sugarto taste
- 1/2teaspooongaram masala
- 1/4cupfinely shredded coconut
- 1/2teaspooncumin seeds
- 1/2teaspoonbrown mustard seeds
- 1bunchasparagusabout 30 spears
- 1/3cupmelted coconut oil
- 1.Thaw phyllo in the refrigerator overnight. Oil a sheet pan and reserve. Preheat the oven to 350F.
- Make the chutney: combine the mango, ginger, turmeric, orange juice and zest, brown sugar, paprika, garam masala and salt in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring. Reduce the heat to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Transfer the chutney to a blender and puree, if desired. Let cool to room temperature.
- In a small bowl, mix the coconut, cumin seeds and brown mustard seeds. Spread on a dry sheet pan and toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes. When golden brown, take out and scrape back into the bowl to cool. Stir in the salt. Raise the heat of the oven to 400F.
- To assemble: Trim the bases of the asparagus and save for compost. Open filo package and remove 6-8 sheets (one for every four spears), tightly re-wrap and freeze remaining. Place the sheets on a counter and cover with plastic wrap, then cover that with a barely damp towel.
- Lightly brush each sheet of phyllo with oil, then sprinkle half with 2 teaspoons of the coconut mixture. Fold in half and cut into four four inch wide pieces. Place each asparagus spear diagonally, with the tip pointing to the lower left hand corner, and fold that corner over the tip. Roll the lower right corner over the spear and keep rolling to wrap completely, and place seam side down on the sheet pan. You can tightly wrap the pan and chill for up to 24 hours before baking.
- Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes, until crisp and golden.