It’s not officially summer yet, but where I live, the temperatures already have reached torrid degrees. The last rainfall was weeks ago. We’ll probably not have another drop until September or October. The roses are finished.
Now in the market is the very last of locally-grown spring asparagus. Sure, asparagus is available year-round, but, starting about now, it will be imported, mostly from Peru. I’ve got nothing against Peru, in fact, its excellent asparagus is often cheaper than that produced in Spain. But, I am seriously trying to cut down on imported produce.
I’m serving the asparagus very simply, cold, accompanied by two sauces. This is an old-fashioned preparation that used to turn up on restaurant menus, where it was usually canned white asparagus con dos salsas, one, a creamy, olive oil mayonnaise and the other, a vinaigrette with chopped scallions and peppers. Here’s my interpretation.
|Green asparagus is topped with a creamy egg yolk vinaigrette and a sauce with chopped scallions and peppers.|
|A dish that used to appear on restaurant menus, canned white asparagus with two sauces.|
|Add chopped smoked ham to the asparagus with sauces and turn it into a substantial lunch dish or starter.|
Asparagus with Two Sauces
Esparragos con Dos Salsas
|Done when spear bends slightly.|
The asparagus can be boiled, steamed, grilled (on a plancha or under the broiler), or microwaved. I like to cook them, simply, in barely boiling water. When are they done? Depends on their thickness. A good test: lift a spear and balance it across a fork. If the spear is still rigid, it’s probably not done. If it bends limply across the fork, it’s already overcooked. If it just slightly bends, probably perfect.
If you are using fresh white asparagus, use a vegetable peeler to peel away a thin outer layer, making the spear less fibrous.
To serve 4
24 spears of asparagus, green or white
3 ounces diced smoked ham or smoked salmon (optional)
Garnishes: hard-boiled egg, salad greens, cherry tomatoes, sliced radishes, sliced lemon
Sauces (recipes follow)
Snap off and discard the fibrous butt ends of the asparagus stalks. Place the stalks in boiling salted water and cook until they are tender (to taste). Drain well and rinse in cold water. Drizzle just a little olive oil over the asparagus spears to keep them from drying out if they are going to wait a while before serving.
To serve, arrange six spears per person on individual plates. Scatter diced ham over them. Garnish the plate, as desired. Serve a spoonful of each sauce beside the asparagus or in bowls to accompany.
Vinaigrette with Cooked Egg Yolk
Vinagreta con Yema de Huevo
|Vinaigrette made with cooked egg yolks.|
If you’re making both sauces, hard-boil two large eggs; use the yolks for this sauce and the chopped egg whites in the following chopped vinaigrette sauce.
2 (large) hard-cooked egg yolks
½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Sherry vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Mash or blend the yolks with the mustard, salt and vinegar. Beat in the oil until the sauce is smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Stir the sauce before serving.
Chopped Vinaigrette Sauce
Vinagreta con Picadillo
|Scallions and red and green peppers add piquancy to this vinaigrette.|
Chop the vegetables finely—use a food processor if you like, but take care not to turn them into mush. Combine the chopped vegetables and mix them with the salt, oil and vinegar shortly before serving.
1/3 cup finely chopped spring onions or scallions
1/3 cup finely chopped green peppers
¼ cup diced pimiento (canned red pepper)
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
1-2 cooked egg whites, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Sherry vinegar
½ teaspoon salt
Combine the onions, green peppers, pimiento, garlic, parsley and egg white in a small bowl. Add the oil, vinegar and salt. Use a slotted spoon to transfer to a serving bowl or directly on to the asparagus.
More asparagus recipes: