We made a half recipe since there were just three of us, set the finished baking sheet on the table and, in time-honored asparagus eating style, plucked stalks to eat with our fingers during the meal.
The only adjustment we made was to ignore the note that thicker asparagus is better. We like thin and thin worked just fine in this recipe.
In an effort to not retype the entire thing, I picked up the rendition below from The Girl Who Ate Everything where you may see her photos of the different steps.
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
2 pounds (1/2-inch-thick) asparagus, trimmed
Salt and pepper
1-1/2 cups Parmesan cheese, grated
3/4 cup panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon honey
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with vegetable oil spray. Using fork, poke holes up and down stalks of asparagus. Toss asparagus with ½ teaspoon salt and let stand for 30 minutes on a paper towel–lined baking sheet.
- Meanwhile, combine 1 cup Parmesan, bread crumbs, butter, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and cayenne in bowl. Transfer half of bread-crumb mixture to shallow dish and reserve remaining mixture. Dividing the crumbs for two phases of dipping eliminates the problem of a soggy coating.
- Using stand mixer fitted with whisk, whip egg whites and honey on medium-low speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and whip until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes.
- Scrape into 13 by 9-inch baking dish and toss asparagus in mixture.
- Working 1 spear at a time, dredge half of asparagus in bread crumbs and transfer to baking sheet. Refill shallow dish with reserved bread-crumb mixture and repeat with remaining half of asparagus.
- Bake asparagus until just beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup Parmesan and continue to bake until cheese is melted and bread crumbs are golden brown, 4 to 8 minutes. Transfer to platter. Serve.
This works best with thicker asparagus. If using thinner asparagus, adjust your baking times.