One evening, I wanted to serve the fresh asparagus from our garden for supper. I usually wrap it in prosciutto, brush it with a little olive oil and bake it, but this time, I didn't have the prosciutto, so I improvised. It turned out tasting great, was much less expensive than using prosciutto and it looked really cool! Ka-ching! These tasty rafts of asparagus woven through ham with melted parmesan cheese are perfect served alongside seafood and steaks. Another bonus - they can be assembled ahead of time.
1Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil lightly with olive oil baking spray or use a paper towel, dipped in a little olive oil, to lightly grease the foil. Set aside.
2Wash and trim woody cut ends of asparagus; place on paper towels and pat dry.
3Cut each slice of ham in half lengthwise. Make 6, evenly spaced, vertical slits in each piece, carefully avoiding the edges.
4Weave asparagus stalks through each slit, using as many stalks as will fit without tearing the ham (if it tears, you can "patch" it with a small piece of ham placed over the tear,) placing each "raft" on prepared foil lined baking sheet.
5Lightly brush asparagus and ham with olive oil; sprinkle very lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper (salt is optional, but I love salt, so I always add just a little bit;)
6Bake at 425ºF for 15 minutes (20 minutes for large spears.)
7Remove from oven, sprinkle parmesan cheese lightly over all; return to oven for 2 to 3 minutes, until cheese is melted. Serve.
8Cover and refrigerate leftovers. May be assembled, covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated up to 1 day ahead. Preheat oven and bake, uncovered, as directed.