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My Favorite Spanish Tapa and Asparagus Casserole

Posted Nov 08 2010 12:00am
Monday is over and I'm pooped!  After work, I did stop by my favorite new place, Publix, for a little inspiration for tonight's dinner.  I could walk around in there for hours....drooling.  It's funny because when we were living in Birmingham there were many high-quality grocery stores (Whole Foods, Publix, Fresh Market, Tria Market, etc) and I never really appreciated them until we moved to Dothan and was forced to shop at _______.  I'm not knockin' ________ but it's not a vegetarian's paradise by any means.  Ok, back to tonight's dinner.....pan con tomate (Spanish tomato bread) and asparagus casserole.

Pan con Tomate
1 roma tomato
Olive oil
Garlic powder
Parsley
Salt / Pepper
Pita bread


Chop, dice, smash and smush the tomato in a bowl.  Pour in olive oil (sorry, I didn't measure), dash of garlic powder (I'm not a huge garlic fan so as much or as little as you like), lots of chopped parsley (fresh parsley is so much better but dried parsley will do because it soaks up the olive oil)...salt and pepper.  I put the pita bread in the oven along with the casserole until its golden and crispy. Speaking of pita bread, Forrest brought back this pita from Naji's Pita Gourmet (JouJou's Pita Bakery...check it out www.pita.net) in Birmingham - the best, seriously.  If you live in Birmingham or go by there...stop in and buy a few packs of this bread.  They give it to you "fresh out da oven" and you can always freeze it until you want to use it.  Add the tomato spread on top and that's it...such a yummy, easy appetizer or side!  I fell in love with this pan con tomate tapa while we were in Spain in July visiting my best friend Natalie and her husband Alvaro. We were fortunate enough to see Nat and Alvy get married (congrats again!!!) AND Spain won the World Cup while we were in Madrid...double celebration!

Asparagus Casserole
1 bundle of asparagus
Shredded monterey cheddar cheese
1 sleeve of crackers (I use Premium multigrain saltines)
1 can fat free cream of celery



I buy the "skinny" asparagus and then chop it into 1/2 inch pieces.  Saute the asparagus in olive oil/salt/pepper until it's tender.  Be sure to fully cook the asparagus...if not, you might as well order a pizza.....been there, done that.  Layer a casserole dish with crumbled up crackers. In a bowl, scoop out the cream of celery and add water to make it less thick and easier to work with.  Pour the cream of celery over the crackers (I don't ever use the whole can).  Next layer is the cooked asparagus...actually tonight I threw in a hand full of spinach and wilted it with the asparagus...I can't get enough spinach...just call me Popeye.  Ok, so next is a shredded cheese layer, then a crumbled crackers layer, and finally, one last shredded cheese layer.  Cook the casserole on 350 degrees for 10 minutes...you are basically just warming up everything.  Change the oven to broil and keep your eye lids peeled back...as soon as the top layers starts to get golden brown (this will happen fast!)...take it out...the broil option can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Sorry this post is so long and step-by-baby-step but I know that Megan will be cooking this exact meal for David this week and she needs all the help she can get...love you sister ;)  Now, I have a date with Mr. Tivo! Good night!
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