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Baked Asparagus with Almond-Cheese Sauce

Serves 4

This asparagus casserole recipe came from my mother. She made it for special occasions, as I do now. It is a quick, easy and absolutely delicious side dish for a family dinner or entertaining. It also is very good for a potluck event. I always use a white cheddar cheese, such as Vermont extra-sharp, but you can use what you prefer or have on hand.

Ingredients

Preheat oven to 350° F. To prepare asparagus, wash, remove tough ends, and cook in lightly salted water until tender. Drain thoroughly and arrange in a lightly buttered baking dish.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of the melted butter to the bread cubes; mix well and reserve for later. Reduce the heat to low and add the flour to the remaining butter in the saucepan; stir until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add the milk and cook, stirring, until smooth and thickened. Stir in the cheese, almonds, and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the asparagus and top with the reserved bread cubes. Bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly. Serve immediately or cover with foil and keep warm until needed.

Notes: The almonds can be toasted in the oven while it is preheating or in the dry saucepan before melting the butter and making the sauce.