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Grilled Asparagus, Taleggio and Prosciutto
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Published: 4/23/2008 12:17 AM

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Grilled Asparagus, Taleggio and Prosciutto

6-8 very thin asparagus spears, tough ends snapped off

2 teaspoons olive oil, plus more if needed for oiling press or skillet

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 lengths of baguettes (6-inch)

3 ounces Taleggio cheese, at room temperature

4 thin slices (2 ounces) prosciutto

Heat a panini press according to the manufacturer's instructions, or heat a large, heavy iron or nonstick skillet.

Brush the asparagus with the 2 teaspoons oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place them on the press or skillet. If using a press, put the top down; if using a skillet, press the asparagus down with a spatula or a slightly smaller, heavy skillet. Cook until slightly charred, 3-5 minutes in a press, slightly longer in skillet. If using a skillet, turn once. Transfer to a plate and allow to cool slightly.

Cut the baguette pieces in half lengthwise. Spread half the cheese on the bottom half of each baguette. Divide the cooked asparagus and arrange on top, pressing them slightly so they stay put. Divide the prosciutto, draping the slices over the asparagus. Top each sandwich with its corresponding baguette half.

If using a skillet, brush it lightly with some oil. (Follow the manufacturer's instructions on oiling, or not oiling, your press.) Place the sandwiches on the hot surface and, if using a press, lower the top and cook 4-6 minutes. If using a skillet, brush the top of the sandwich with more oil, and press down on the top with another skillet or a spatula. When the bottom is brown, turn and press and cook some more. It will probably take 8-10 minutes total. Serve immediately.

Serves two.

"Panini Express" by Daniel Leader and Lauren Chattman (2008 Taunton Press, $18.95)