When asparagus is in season, we can indulge in cooking it in a variety of ways, and here is an idea for a vegetarian one-course meal: Dairy-free asparagus loaf.

For someone like me who comes from a family of producers of Parmigiano Reggianogiving up cheese is not easy, but I am often on the lookout for ideas for recipes that do not include it as an ingredient precisely to avoid the risk of consuming too much of it, as I love cheese!

Having potatoes as the main ingredient, this recipe with asparagus is a dish that provides a good dose of carbohydrates combined with plenty of fibre due to the presence of so many vegetables, so simply accompanying it with a side dish of fresh vegetables makes for a complete meal.

And remember that asparagus can be cooked in the microwave for few minutes to retain all its flavour! Read how in the recipe procedure.

Dairy-free asparagus loaf

13.28g carbohydrates per 100g

Ingredients for 6 servings

  • 470g peeled potatoes
  • 350g asparagus
  • 210g onions
  • 100g leek
  • 2 egg whites
  • 15g breadcrumbs**
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Crusco pepper to taste
  • oregano, mint
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)

Preparation of Dairy free asparagus loaf

  1. Cut the potatoes into small pieces and boil them in lightly salted water until soft.
  2. Mash the potatoes while they are still hot in a bowl and set them aside.
  3. Slice onions and leeks and fry them in a non-stick pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, season with salt and pepper and cook.
  4. Cook the asparagus. You can choose to cook the asparagus in the microwave oven by making a layer of spears in a container and cooking it for 4 minutes at 600W. Alternatively, cook the asparagus in a non-stick pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a few tablespoons of water until soft.
  5. Put the mashed potatoes in a bowl, add the onions and leeks, chopped asparagus and egg whites; mix everything together, season with oregano, mint, pepper and salt.
  6. Lightly grease an oven dish, pour in the potato and vegetable mixture, flatten the surface and sprinkle it with breadcrumbs. Top with a drizzle of oil and cook au gratin in a convection oven preheated to 200°C until a golden crust forms on the surface.
Il polpettone con asparagi senza formaggio pronto per essere gustato

The Dairy free asparagus loaf ready to be enjoyed

Version with gluten of Dairy free asparagus loaf

Replace gluten free breadcrumbs with standard breadcrumbs; no other adaptation is needed.

Saffron gnocchi with asparagus and grated Prosciutto are an easy idea to make, they use Italy’s yellow gold (saffron), a seasonal vegetable, and honour one of the most extraordinary products of my home town’s culinary tradition, Prosciutto di Parma.

Gnocchi are a classic that everyone loves, they are perfect in any season and allow us to unleash our creativity by inventing sauces with any ingredient.

Yet, preparing soft potato gnocchi in which you do not taste the flour and which do not dissolve in the cooking water requires a few tricks. First of all, ask your trusted greengrocer for potatoes with firm, non-watery flesh, then remember that it is essential to mash the potatoes while still hot, but never add flour before they have cooled down completely. See here the video on how to prepare gnocchi.

In this recipe, I wanted to share one of my favourite ways of using Prosciutto di Parma in the kitchen, i.e. grated like cheese to flavour the dish and overwhelm us with its aroma released by the heat of the gnocchi. Remember that Prosciutto placed in the freezer will not freeze due to the presence of salt, but this operation will allow us to grate it without overheating it, thus leaving its taste and aroma unaltered.

I am sure that once you have tasted ham in this way, you will be tempted to use it in many other recipes to the infinite joy of you and your guests.

Saffron gnocchi with asparagus and grated Prosciutto

    carbohydrates 21.67g per 100g

Ingredients for the gnocchi

  • 1kg boiled and peeled potatoes
  • 200g gluten-free pasta flour, brand Molino Dallagiovanna**
  • 1 whole eggs
  • a pinch of salt
  • brown rice flour* for dusting the cutting board

Ingredients for the sauce

  • 300g asparagus
  • 200g milk
  • 50g Prosciutto di Parma in a single slice, kept in the freezer
  • 30g grated Parmesan cheese
  • 4g potato starch*
  • 0.5g saffron
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper

**Ingredients specific for celiacs

*Ingredients whose labels must read “gluten-free” (or, in Italy, present on  Prontuario AIC)


  1. Mash the boiled potatoes while they are still hot, leaving the peel in the potato masher. Let them cool completely, then add the flour, the whole egg and a pinch of salt, mixing everything to obtain an even mixture.
  2. Take pieces of dough, form them into long cylinders with a diameter of about 2cm, then cut them into small pieces that you will slide over the tines of a fork so that their surface is grooved (this way the gnocchi will hold the sauce better!). Place the ready gnocchi on a tray lightly dusted with rice flour.
  3. Start preparing the sauce. Take the asparagus, wash, dry and cut into three parts: remove the woody part which you will throw away (unless you want to make a stock to use for a risotto), keep the middle part to boil and blend to make a cream and set aside the softer part and tips to use in pieces for the gnocchi.
  4. Put the asparagus tips in a pan with a little extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper and let them soften.
  5. Prepare the cold sauce. Put the potato starch in a bowl and dissolve it with the milk, adding it gradually so that no lumps form. Add saffron to the mixture, stirring well with a whisk and set the sauce aside until use, stirring it occasionally if you are not going to use it right away.
  6. Take Prosciutto out of the freezer and blend it in a food processor as if it were cheese. Keep it aside.
  7. At this point you can assemble the preparation. Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water; pour the saffron cream into the pan with the asparagus tips and when the gnocchi rise to the surface, drain them with a slotted spoon and toss them into the pan with asparagus and saffron, add the grated Parmesan cheese and allow gnocchi to gain flavour. Pour the gnocchi onto a serving plate and finish by sprinkling them with grated Prosciutto di Parma. If you love gnocchi, enjoy my Ricotta dumplings with radicchio.

Gli gnocchi allo zafferano pronti per essere gustati

Version with gluten of Saffron gnocchi with asparagus and grated prosciutto

Replace Molino Dallagiovanna flour with conventional wheat flour in equal quantities.