Chances are you'll be making this recipe more than once during the height of asparagus season. The sandwich filling might remind you of baked crab dip, although it's more goat cheese than mayonnaise and brightened with herbs and lemon zest. It calls for just a modest amount of the seafood.
Serve with a salad or a pea soup. Adapted from "Grilled Cheese Please! 50 Scrumptiously Cheesy Recipes," by Laura Werlin (Andrews McMeel, 2011).
> Crab-Swiss Melt With Asparagus
16 thin asparagus spears (about 8 ounces)
Kosher salt or coarse sea salt
Leaves from 3 or 4 stems tarragon
12 to 15 chives
4 ounces goat cheese
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise (do not use nonfat)
6 to 8 ounces lump crabmeat
Freshly ground black pepper
8 sandwich-size slices crusty, firm bread, such as sourdough or ciabatta
4 slices Swiss or Emmenthaler cheese (4 ounces total)
Place a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or ovenproof nonstick skillet on the bottom rack of the oven; preheat to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
Place the asparagus on the baking sheet; drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. Roast on the middle oven rack for 7 or 8 minutes, until lightly browned and barely tender.
Meanwhile, finely grate enough lemon zest to yield 1 teaspoon; reserve the remaining lemon for another use. Finely chop the tarragon (2 tablespoons) and chives (2 tablespoons); combine those in a mixing bowl along with the goat cheese and 2 tablespoons of the mayonnaise.
Pick over the crabmeat and discard any bits of shell or cartilage.
When the asparagus is cool enough to handle, cut off the tips (about 2 inches down) and reserve. Cut the stalks crosswise into 1/4 -inch pieces, discarding the tough ends. Fold the stalk pieces and the crab (to taste) into the goat cheese mixture until well incorporated. Taste, and season with salt and pepper as needed.
Lay the 8 bread slices on a sheet of plastic wrap or waxed paper; spread them with the remaining 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise. Turn over 4 of the slices.
Divide the crab mixture among the 4 inverted slices, spreading it in an even layer. Top with a slice of Swiss cheese, then place 4 of the reserved asparagus spears on each piece of cheese. Top each sandwich with one of the remaining 4 mayonnaise-covered slices of bread, with the mayonnaise on the outside/top. Press firmly to create 4 sandwiches.
Transfer the heated skillet to the stovetop over medium heat. Place as many sandwiches as will fit in the skillet; cover with a pan lid small enough to rest directly on top of the sandwiches (like a weight) and cook for about 3 minutes, until golden brown on the bottom. Uncover and turn them over; cover and cook for about 1 minute on the second side, pressing down slightly with a spatula.
Let the sandwiches rest for a few minutes before cutting them in half.
Serve warm. Serves four.