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Baked Asparagus Caprese

Baked Asparagus Caprese: A Fresh and Flavorful Dish

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Baked Asparagus Caprese is a delightful and healthy dish that combines the freshness of asparagus and cherry tomatoes with the rich flavors of mozzarella cheese and a balsamic glaze. This easy-to-make recipe is perfect as a side dish or a light main course. Here’s how to prepare it step-by-step.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb asparagus, stalks trimmed
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Instructions

Preparing the Asparagus and Tomatoes

  1. Preheat Oven: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Prepare Asparagus: Trim the woody ends off the asparagus stalks. Arrange the asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  3. Add Tomatoes: Scatter the halved cherry tomatoes over the asparagus.
  4. Season and Drizzle: Drizzle the olive oil over the asparagus and tomatoes. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning, and add salt and pepper to taste. Toss everything together to ensure the vegetables are well coated.

Baking the Dish

  1. Bake: Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is tender and the tomatoes are roasted.
  2. Add Cheese: Remove the baking sheet from the oven and sprinkle the shredded mozzarella cheese evenly over the asparagus and tomatoes.
  3. Melt Cheese: Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Preparing the Balsamic Glaze

  1. Combine Ingredients: In a small saucepan, combine the balsamic vinegar and honey.
  2. Simmer: Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer until the mixture has reduced by half and has a syrupy consistency, about 5-7 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
  3. Cool: Remove the glaze from the heat and let it cool slightly. It will thicken as it cools.

Serving the Dish

  1. Drizzle the Glaze: Drizzle the balsamic glaze over the baked asparagus and tomatoes.
  2. Garnish: Sprinkle the chopped fresh basil over the top.
  3. Serve: Serve immediately, while the cheese is still melted and the dish is warm.

Cooking Notes and Variations

Cooking Notes:

  • Asparagus Tips: To trim the asparagus, bend the stalks gently until they naturally snap. This will remove the tough, woody ends.
  • Cheese Options: You can use fresh mozzarella slices instead of shredded mozzarella for a more authentic Caprese feel.

Variations:

  • Vegetarian Option: This dish is already vegetarian-friendly. To make it vegan, you can use dairy-free cheese alternatives.
  • Protein Addition: Add grilled chicken or shrimp on top of the dish for added protein and to make it a complete meal.
  • Extra Flavor: Add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes for a bit of heat, or a dash of lemon zest for a burst of freshness.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Can I make this dish ahead of time?

A: While this dish is best enjoyed fresh, you can prepare the asparagus and tomatoes ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator. Add the cheese and bake just before serving. The balsamic glaze can also be made in advance and stored in a sealed container.

Q: How do I store leftovers?

A: Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. Reheat in the oven or microwave until warmed through.

Q: Can I use other vegetables?

A: Yes, you can add or substitute other vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, or mushrooms. Adjust the baking time as needed to ensure all vegetables are cooked through.

Q: What can I serve with this dish?

A: This dish pairs well with a variety of sides, including a fresh green salad, garlic bread, or a light pasta dish. It can also be served as a side to grilled meats or fish.

Q: How do I make the balsamic glaze thicker?

A: If your balsamic glaze isn’t thick enough, continue to simmer it until it reaches the desired consistency. Be careful not to overcook it, as it can burn.

Baked Asparagus Caprese is a simple yet elegant dish that brings together the best of fresh, seasonal ingredients. The combination of tender asparagus, sweet cherry tomatoes, gooey melted mozzarella, and a tangy balsamic glaze creates a perfect harmony of flavors and textures. Whether you’re serving it as a side dish or a light main course, this recipe is sure to impress. Enjoy the freshness and flavor of this delightful dish today

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