Active: 30 Min. Total: 45 Min
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole wheat
3 pounds asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups whole milk
5 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 450. Put a large pot of water on to boil. Set a large bowl of ice water near the stove
Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a small bowl in the microwave, about 30 seconds. Stir in panko; set aside.
Cook asparagus in the boiling water until bright green, about 1 minute. Drain and transfer to the ice bath. Let cool for 5 minutes, then drain and pat dry. Arrange the asparagus in a 9-by-13 baking dish.
Heat the pot over medium-high heat. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and stir until melted. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add flour and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Gradually whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Continue cooking and whisking until mixture thickens, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cream cheese, mozzarella and salt.
Pour the cheese sauce over the asparagus and stir to coat. Sprinkle the panko mixture on top. Bake until the asparagus is tender, 12 to 15 minutes.