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Asparagus, Ham, and Cheese Melts

    1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 ounces)
    1/4 cup mayonnaise
    1 pound thin asparagus
    4 slices Italian or other white bread
    2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened
    1/4 pound sliced cooked ham

  Preheat broiler. In a small bowl stir together Parmesan and
 mayonnaise. Trim asparagus to fit bread and arrange asparagus in a
 skillet just large enough to hold it in one layer. Add 1/2 inch
 salted cold water and cook asparagus, covered, over moderately high
 heat 5 minutes, or until just tender. In a colander drain asparagus
 well.

  Arrange bread on a baking sheet and butter top of each slice. Broil
 bread about 6 inches from heat until golden, about 2 minutes. Turn
 bread over and arrange ham on each slice, folding or trimming to fit
 if necessary. Arrange asparagus on ham and spread with Parmesan
 mixture. Broil sandwiches about 3 inches from heat until golden,
 1 to 2 minutes.