Springtime veggies, coming up!
The first local asparagus is in season now, and it is one of my favorite seasonal veggies. (Read our earlier ASE article on the health benefits and interesting facts about asparagus)
I’ve tried out these recipes on a few dinner parties; the first one, especially, gets rave reviews for both taste and presentation. Look out, Ina Garten!
Roasted Asparagus Spears wrapped in Smoked Salmon or Prosciutto
One bunch of asparagus, green or white asparagus – or both – at least six spears of asparagus per person
Olive Oil, 3 TBS
Chopped fresh rosemary leaves, without the stems, 2 TBS
Sea salt and pepper
High-quality smoked salmon or prosciutto, sliced thin, 6 oz.
Sauce Verte (Green sauce) or lemon herb aioli
Roast the asparagus
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Peel each spear of asparagus to remove the tougher skin on the stem, away from the tip (see video below)
- Lay the asparagus on foil on a baking sheet, no overlap
- Drizzle olive oil over asparagus
- Sprinkle rosemary, sea salt and pepper -over spears
- Roast until spears begin to brown, check after ten minutes
- Remove cooked asparagus from oven and cool.
Wrap spears in smoked salmon or prosciutto
- Cut smoked salmon into two-inch by eight-inch strips
- Wrap each spear in a strip of salmon, about half way up the spear.
Arrange asparagus on individual serving plates
- Fan spears out with stem ends together
- Dab a spoonful of green sauce or aioli where the ends of the spears come together
- Place a lemon wedge on each plate
Note: I am a fan of the efficient school of cooking which asserts “If someone is offering to sell me an outstanding sauce, why would I make one?” My fish store makes a world class sauce verte which I use in this recipe. Stonewall Kitchen makes three good Aiolis: Lemon Herb, Truffle and Roasted Garlic.
For you purists, here is a good recipe for mayo sauce verte.
Asparagus and White Bean Salad with Tarragon-Lemon Dressing
8 ounces dried white beans or 2 (15-ounce) cans Great Northern or cannellini beans
2 bay leaves, if using dried beans
1 pound of asparagus
½ cup tarragon leaves
1 teaspoon packed finely grated lemon zest
2 garlic cloves, peeled
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large lemon, juiced, plus more to taste
½ cup olive oil
- If using canned beans, drain and rinse. If using dried beans, soak in plenty of water for 6 hours or overnight. Drain beans and transfer to a medium pot. Cover beans by 2 inches with water and add 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and the bay leaves. Simmer until just tender but not at all mushy, about 45 minutes to 1 1/2 hours, depending upon what kind of beans you’re using. Drain.
- Break off tough ends of the asparagus. Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil and prepare a bowl with ice and cold water. Blanch trimmed asparagus for 1 1/2 minutes, or until just cooked through but still firm, then plunge them into the ice bath. Let sit for 5 minutes, then drain. Pat dry and slice diagonally into 1/2-inch pieces.
- In a blender or food processor, combine tarragon, lemon zest, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, the black pepper and the lemon juice, and process until garlic is chopped. Pour in olive oil. Process until mixture is well blended and bright green, about 1 minute.
- In a large mixing bowl, gently toss together beans, asparagus and dressing. Taste and add more lemon juice and salt if needed.
Note: For a flourish, ‘roll-cut’ each asparagus spear. Cut a one-inch piece at a 30-degree angle, then roll the spear ¼ turn away from you and cut again, repeat. From Melissa Clark, NYTimes Cooking
Asparagus With Salsa Verde and Scarlet Onions
1 small red onion, sliced into thin rounds
A few tablespoons white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar, more to taste
1 ½ pounds asparagus
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
1 wide band orange zest, finely slivered and blanched for 10 seconds
4 to 5 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon orange juice
- Separate sliced onion rings and toss with vinegar and a pinch of salt. Set aside in refrigerator.
- If asparagus spears are thick, peel stalks and cut off tough stem ends. If they are thin, snap off bottom of each stalk where it breaks easily and trim ends. Simmer asparagus with water to cover until bright green but still a little firm, about 3 minutes for thin spears, 5 minutes or longer for fat. They can be a bit underdone. Remove to a towel to dry; asparagus will finish cooking as it sits.
- Put parsley, tarragon and capers in a bowl. Finely dice half the orange zest, then dice half the pickled onion. Add diced zest and onion to bowl. Stir in oil, mustard, orange juice and vinegar to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
- Lay asparagus on a platter. Ladle sauce over stems and tips and finish with remaining slivered orange zest and pickled onion rings. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.
Note: This recipe is delicious with roasted asparagus. From JULIA MOSKIN