Poached Asparagus with Lemon-Mint Panko
Of the myriad ways to prepare asparagus, I think poaching produces the truest, freshest flavor. A shower of minty, lemony bread crumbs brightens the experience.
1 ½ pounds thick fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint, plus sprigs for garnish
Trim 2 inches from the bottoms of the asparagus. Lightly peel the stalks. Fill a 12-inch skillet with 3 inches of salted water. Bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook until tender but still bright green, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the butter in s medium skillet. Add the panko; stir over medium heat until golden, 3 minutes. Stir the lemon zest and 2 teaspoons juice into the crumbs. Cook 30 seconds, add the chopped mint and salt and pepper. Drain the asparagus well and transfer to a platter. Dot with the remaining butter, then scatter the crumbs on top. Garnish with the mint sprigs.