YIELD: 10 to 12 servings
3 lbs. very thin green asparagus, trimmed
2 cups vegetable aspic as needed, nonstick cooking spray
6 oz. high quality goat cheese
½ cup water
as needed, salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut off the tender tips from the asparagus and reserve for another use. If the asparagus stalks are very slender, the ends won't need to be removed, but if a few appear tough or thick, break them where they naturally snap. Trim the stalks to the same length so they are easy to stack. Line them up at the tip ends to do so.
2. In a large pot of boiling water, blanch the asparagus stalks for 1-3 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain and immediately submerge in cold water. Drain again.
3. Put the vegetable aspic in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until just melted.
4. Lightly coat a long, shallow, 1-cup terrine mold, approximately 3" long and 2" wide, with nonstick cooking spray and line with plastic wrap, leaving 3" overhangs on the long sides of the terrine.
5. Make the first layer by laying the asparagus side by side in the terrine. Cut the stalks to fill in a single layer so there are no gaps. Spoon just enough aspic over the asparagus to coat the stalks. Continue layering the asparagus and aspic until the terrine is filled. The final layer should be aspic. Place the mold on a rimmed tray to catch any overflow of juices. Form the overhanging ends of the plastic wrap over the top of the terrine and set a piece of foil-lined lightweight cardboard, cut to fit inside the mold, on top of the plastic wrap. Place a weight, such as a soup can laid on its side, on top of the cardboard and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
6. Put the goat cheese and about 2 Tbsps. of the water in a small saucepan. Cook over low heat whisking constantly, until the mixture is smooth and just warm. Add as much of the remaining water as needed for a saucelike consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
7. Set aside, covered, to keep warm.
8. To serve: use the plastic wrap to lift the terrine from the mold. Unwrap and cut the terrine into ½" slices. Spoon a pool of goat cheese purree in the middle of a small plate. Lay 1 slice of terrine on top.
Recipe and photo: Chuck Voltmer, general manager, Dining Services, Missouri Valley College, Marshall, MO