About a year ago, I was invited to attend a wedding in Germany. Being wanderlust, I leaped at the opportunity, making a trip out of it to justify the expense. Our first stop on the itinerary was Berlin. While I was there, a friend recommended that I check out KaDeWe, an upscale department store with historical roots; it first opened its doors in 1907 and has an impressive eight floors, two of which are devoted to food. Of course, I visited floors six and seven of KaDeWe.
KaDeWe’s seventh floor is a large, upscale food court. What left the biggest impression on me was a side dish that I saw on everyone’s tray, boiled white asparagus (Spargel) with Hollandaise sauce.
Now that it’s asparagus season again, I am sharing my own version, roasted asparagus with cheddar cheese sauce. I prefer to roast the asparagus because the flavors intensify and the tips become crispy. Instead of a Hollandaise sauce, I covered the asparagus with a fool-proof Mornay sauce. For the meal below, I added some potatoes to the sheet tray, too.
Roasted Asparagus with Cheddar Cheese Sauce, serves 4
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
5 medium red potatoes, quartered (optional)
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
4 oz. grated cheddar cheese
1 bunch of chives, chopped
Salt & Pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the asparagus onto a sheet tray and toss with olive oil and a quarter teaspoon of salt. Arrange the spears so they are in a single layer. If adding potatoes, repeat the first two steps. Place the tray into the middle rack of the oven and roast until the asparagus ends are crispy and everything is cooked through, shaking the tray about 10 minutes to roll the asparagus to the other side for even cooking. Total roasting time for me was between 25-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed sauce pan, melt the butter and whisk in the flour. Cook the flour for about a minute before adding the milk. Keep whisking to prevent lumps. Once the mixture comes to a low boil, remove from heat and incorporate the cheese and 3/4 of the chopped chives. Do not worry if the Bechamel is thin because it will thicken as soon as you add the cheese and turn it into a Mornay sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
To assemble, lay the asparagus (and potatoes) on a platter and pour over with cheese sauce. Sprinkle the remaining chives on top for a pop of color.
Below are some photos of KaDeWe: