Asparagus with Pangrattato




With this recipe, Mum and I had the first taste of asparagus this year, and asparagus means the Spring season has finally arrived.  The asparagus is locally grown in Hawke’s Bay.

This dish is very quick to make, fairly simple to construct, and has nice textures with the soft asparagus topped with crunchy fried breadcrumbs.

As per usual on a Saturday morning, Mum had been listening to Nici Wickes on Radio Newstalk ZB. Nici read out this recipe, and so a couple of hours later, at lunchtime, Mum and I constructed this dish from what Mum thought she remembered hearing on the radio. Reconstructing the dish from memory, meant that we did a couple of stages differently from the official recipe. We left out the lemon zest, and juice (but did add a few drops of lemon juice over the asparagus when plated up), but give or take a bit, it turned out pretty much the same, and tasted excellent.



Serves 2


1 bunch asparagus (we had 12 spears)

¼ cup (4 tablespoons) olive oil (or more depending how the bread soaks up the oil)

1 ½ cups fresh breadcrumbs (make out of stale bread)

Pinch of dried red chilli flakes

Salt and pepper

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (and reserve some for garnish)

Zest from 1 lemon

Lemon juice

Freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve


In a large fry-pan, bring salted water to the boil.

Snap the tough ends off the asparagus. Add asparagus to the fry-pan and simmer for about 7 minutes. Cook until asparagus are soft, and hold their shape (and are not soggy).

In another fry-pan, heat olive oil. Add breadcrumbs, chilli flakes, and salt, and keep stirring breadcrumbs around the pan until they turn a golden colour. Add garlic, and cook for another minute, then add parsley. Remove from heat, and stir through the lemon zest. Season with pepper, and if needed, more salt.

Drain the asparagus. Add lemon juice, salt, pepper, and a splash of olive oil to the asparagus. Coat all the asparagus, and then place on a plate, topped with the pangrattato, and parmesan cheese, and a bit of flat-leaf parsley for garnish.



  • Pangrattato is basically Italian for breadcrumbs. These breadcrumbs have been jazzed up a bit with chilli flakes, lemon, and garlic, etc., and pangrattato sounds a lot nicer than “Asparagus with breadcrumbs”.
  • When cooking asparagus, a large fry-pan filled with boiling water works out better than using a large pot. In a fry-pan, the long asparagus spears sit flat, whereas in a pot they tend to bend.
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