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Roasted Spring Asparagus in Serrano Ham

Serves 4 as a tapas dish

  • 12 medium thick asparagus spears
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. Spanish smoked paprika (pimenton)
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 large, thin slices Serrano ham (or prosciutto)

Snap the tough base from each asparagus spear, then trim the bottom so it’s flat. Bring a pot of water to a boil that’s big enough to immerse the asparagus spears. Season it with a tablespoon of salt once it’s boiling. Blanch the asparagus for one minute from the time the water returns to a boil (on highest heat). Remove, rinse under cold water to stop the cooking and dry. They will still be crisp.

Chop the garlic very fine, mix it with the pimenton and vinegar, and stir in the oil. Pour over the asparagus on a plate, and let marinate for about 5 minutes.

Cut the ham slices into thirds (each piece should be nearly square). Wrap each spear in a piece of ham, leaving the head showing. Wrap pretty tight—and lay the wrapped spears on a baking sheet, either on parchment paper, or chose one that is not aluminum, so it won’t interact with the asparagus. Try to make enough space between the spears that they don’t touch one another. If you’re not serving them for a while, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate until needed.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Bake the asparagus for about 8 minutes, until the ham sizzles and crisps a bit, and the spears take on a bit of color. Serve warm.