Asparagus Panna Cotta with Pancetta ... and Crunch
May 31st, 2010

I know. It’s been a while. But there are two major projects that keep me busy around the clock right now. Not that I’m complaining, far from it! And yet my days only have those ridiculous few 24 hours, no matter how hard I keep trying to squeeze in some extra minutes. What projects, you might ask? I’ll give you the scoop in a bit.

Today’s recipe is my successful attempt to replicate the memorable appetizer we once had at one of our favorite restaurants here in Munich – white asparagus gone panna cotta. Incredible easy to prepare and a welcome twist to the usually sweet panna cotta versions. Perfectly seasonal as well, white asparagus will only be available here in Germany until June, 24th (Johannistag/Midsummer).

I like to serve this in neat little yogurt glasses (which I keep only for the purpose of serving desserts or appetizers in them) and since my vegetable box was stocked with green asparagus as well, I decided on a quick raw and crunchy salad to go alongside. Small pink radishes, sweet carrots, some toasted, slivered almonds and a splash of fruity olive oil and lemon juice… this makes up for the spring we never had this year. It’s raining again… ;) Go figure.

Soak the gelatine sheets for 10 minutes in a bowl with cold water.

Cut the white asparagus into slices (thick as a finger) and put into a smaller sized pot together with the heavy cream. Bring to a boil, then let simmer for about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt, sugar (especially, if the asparagus is slightly bitter) and freshly grated nutmeg.

Strain though a fine mesh sieve (the asparagus can be used for something else, soup for example). Now add the squeezed out gelatine sheets into the hot cream and stir well until completely dissolved.

Fill the hot cream into small glasses and cover well with foil (otherwise it will easily take on smells from the fridge), before chilling it for at least 5 hours, better over night.

Just before serving: slice the pancetta into thin stripes, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and fry the pancetta until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on kitchen towels. Distribute over panna cotta glasses.

For the salad: Roast the slivered almonds in a pan until slightly golden brown (don’t let them burn!), then put into a bowl. Wash and clean the vegetables and cut them into equally thin slices. Mix with the almonds and distribute the salad among little glasses. Cut the basil leaves into very thin stripes (chiffonade) and decorate on top of the salad glasses. Finally sprinkle with some lemon juice and olive oil, then serve together with the panna cotta.

Asparagus Panna Cotta with Pancetta and Crunch

Recipe source: own creation

Prep time: ~30 minutes, chilling time: at least 5 hours

Ingredients (for 4)

.

2 gelatine sheets

300 g white asparagus, cleaned

400 g heavy cream

sea salt

sugar

nutmeg

olive oil

4 slices of pancetta (or bacon)

2 tbsp slivered almonds

1 larger carrot

4-6 stalks green asparagus

4-6 small, pink radishes

some fresh basil leaves

freshly squeezed lemon juice

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May 31st,
2010

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