A good old 80’s appy gets a healthier overhaul with this veggie version using asparagus and filo pastry! You know it’s spring when the lilacs are in bloom and the asparagus hits the market (or your garden if you’re lucky enough to grow your own). I seriously don’t leave the grocery store these days without a bundle of asparagus!
Asparagus is packed with nutrition and is a good source of fiber, folate, vitamins A, C, E and K, as well as chromium, a trace mineral that enhances the ability of insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells. Look for asparagus that either has been freshly picked or stored in the cooler section of the store: eat it as soon as possible after buying it and store it in the fridge at home to keep it as fresh as possible. Lignin, the fibrous (indigestible part) of asparagus forms quicker if it isn’t kept cool.
You can make these with puff pastry should you wish, but the filo pastry gives it a really nice crunch and you get to take advantage of the healthier fats thanks to the olive oil. They are delicious either way when we tested them! You can also substitute a vegan cheese if you want to make these vegan: I would recommend a couple of dollops of vegan cashew cream cheese (try one of the Spread ‘Em  varieties I’m addicted!!). These are such a fun appetizer to make and really not difficult once you get the hang of the filo pastry. Just keep it from drying out by placing it under a cloth while you’re working with the sheets.
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 pound fresh asparagus, ends trimmed*
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 package filo pastry, thawed according to directions**
- 2/3 c. grated gruyere or parmesan cheese
*to trim the ends simply bend the spears at the cut end and the tough part will snap off where the lignin has stopped forming
**to make these with puff pastry simply roll out the thawed puff pastry and skip step 3 (you won’t need any extra olive oil, no brushing required)
- Preheat the oven to 425F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a medium frying pan heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the asparagus and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and saute until the asparagus is bright green but still very crisp, about 1 minute, tossing the asparagus to prevent the garlic from burning (you may need to add 1 tablespoon of water). Remove from the heat.
- On a clean flat surface lay one sheet of filo pastry down and brush it lightly with the olive oil. Place another layer of filo directly on top of the first layer, brush it with olive oil, and add another layer of filo, brushing it with oil as well. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the filo into 4 even squares (one cut down the middle vertically and another cut down the middle horizontally).
- Place 2-3 asparagus stalks (use 2 if the stalks are large) at the edge of one of the squares, placing the spears vertically on the pastry so that the tips of the asparagus hang slightly off of one end. Sprinkle the pastry lightly with cheese and roll the asparagus up tightly in the pastry, tucking the ends in half-way through and finishing the roll to form a pocket (you may want to cut any excess pastry off the ends if there is a lot hanging off the bottom). Place the roll on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining asparagus and pastry.
- Bake until golden brown, approximately 15 minutes, and serve immediately. This is a gorgeous appetizer served with some crisp white wine!