2 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut diagonally into 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits
2 large shallots, finely chopped
4 slices firm white sandwich bread, cut into 1/4 -inch pieces
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
Butter a 2- to 2 1/2 -quart shallow ceramic flameproof baking dish.
Cook asparagus in pot of boiling salted water, uncovered, until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Drain, then transfer to baking dish and cover with foil. Meanwhile, heat oil and butter in a 12-inch heavy skillet over high heat until foam subsides; cook shallots, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 3 minutes. Add bread and pine nuts and cook, stirring, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add pepper, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/4 teaspoon salt, tossing to combine. Preheat broiler. Toss warm asparagus with mascarpone, remaining Parmesan and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt until combined well. Arrange in baking dish and sprinkle bread-crumb mixture evenly over asparagus. Broil 5 to 7 inches from heat until topping is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Serves 6.
Per serving: 297 calories; 23 g fat (10 g saturated fat; 70 percent calories from fat); 13 g carbohydrates; 43 mg cholesterol; 592 mg sodium; 12 g protein; 2 g fiber.