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All winter long we ate root vegetables, or “dirt” vegetables, in huge quantities, and I truly love to buy and prepare winter legumes. But in my world once I spy fresh asparagus in the markets, my brain sings SPRING!
I was “stuck” on repeat mode for a long while and prepared room temperature asparagus with a soy/sesame sauce that I still love, but I recently took a cooking class where I was inspired to make asparagus with fresh herbs and shallots.
The version I witnessed during the quick cooking demonstration was more French and involved oven roasting the spears of asparagus and topping them with a hand whisked sauce that resembled a salsa verde with sieved egg yolk and garlic. This took much longer than my pared down formula.
I think my recipe is easy and really, really good. I’m proud of myself for visualizing the garnish with not only a grated egg but with pickled onions as well. Not only does this taste great but it’s a bit crunchy (think good texture) and pretty, too. I know I sound a little full of myself, but see what you think!
I am admittedly a fresh herb lover and feel I “hit the jackpot” with this recipe. It graced our Passover table, and I’ve made this asparagus dish too many times to count. I have every intention of repeating this preparation as long as the asparagus looks good this Spring.
Asparagus with Herbed Shallot Emulsion and Pickled Bermuda Onion
- 1 large bunch fairly thick asparagus (about 1 ¼ lb)
- 1/3 cups chopped herbs – this time of year I use tarragon, dill and parsley in equal parts – but any combo of herbs you love is fine
- ½ medium shallot, diced
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (about 5 ⅓ Tbsp)
- 1 hard boiled egg (grated for garnish)
- 1 small red Bermuda onion (for garnish)
- ½ cup seasoned rice wine vinegar (to marinate the onion)
- Juice of 1 lemon (right before serving)
Snap off the ends of the asparagus spears. Meanwhile bring a large saute pan with about a half an inch of water and two teaspoons table salt to a boil. Add the spears and keep simmering. Leave on medium heat for two minutes so it turns brighter green and is fairly firm when pierced with a fork. Remove to an ice water bath and let sit for five minutes. Dry thoroughly on a dishtowel, put in tupperware or paper towels until ready to continue. (This can be done a day or two before you complete the recipe and serve it.)
Alternately, you can roast the asparagus by coating them with one tablespoon of olive oil on a parchment lined rimmed cookie sheet at 450 degree convection (475 regular heat) oven for 10-12 minutes until done to your liking. Do not crowd or overlap the stalks or they steam rather than roast.
If you blanch or roast the asparagus ahead of time, then an hour or so before serving, remove the asparagus from the fridge to bring to room temperature.
Before making the herb emulsion, I prepare a lazy person’s pickled red onion to use as garnish and to give the finished dish some crunch. In a pint glass jar, I add about 1/3 cup of red onion rounds (slice thinly) then barely cover these with seasoned rice wine vinegar. Add a pinch of salt, put the lid on the jar and store it in the fridge – they will be ready after your asparagus is plated and ready to garnish! Impressive and easy, no? And there will be enough onions to use on sandwiches or other veggies for garnish.
To make the herb emulsion, put the chopped herbs, chopped shallot and lemon zest with the olive oil in a narrow tall container and use your immersion blender to puree it. The sauce should be thickish like a loose pesto. You have to be able to toss this with the asparagus so too thick isn’t good. If it looks like you need more, add additional olive oil.
If doing at the last minute then after the asparagus is cooked and still warm or even room temperature, toss with the herb emulsion (I don’t think you will need the entire amount but you could make even more asparagus if you don’t want leftover sauce). Dress right before serving and season with salt, lemon juice, and more olive oil. Top with grated hard boiled egg whites or whole hard boiled egg. Sprinkle with some pickled onion.