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Tasty Side to Life Tours Website

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

White Asparagus Season: White Asparagus Salad- Organic Microgreens, raspberries, lemon zest and a Dijon Vinaigrette

White asparagus season is one of my favorites in France. I just love them because they are so odd looking. During the months of April you can find these bizarre fat and albino bunches of asparagus blanketing the Parisian morning fruit and veggie stands. It's a sign that winter is almost finally over, so that means grab the umbrella because Paris rainy spring season is almost here :) Apparently legends have it that the white asparagus was discovered in the 16th century when a hailstorm destroyed the crop and forced people to eat what was left. It was then that they discovered the beauty and sweetness of white asparagus. We'll glad they did.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans thought it had medicinal properties yet technically speaking it's just green asparagus deprived from light during cultivation... (doesn't sound as interesting does it)? I like the first part of the story better...

Regardless, white asparagus is delicious and has a much more delicate taste than its green cousin. It's great in soups or salads or paired with "fatty" additions like hollandaise sauce, butter or eggs. French chefs also like to serve them natural with just a light dash of olive oil, salt and parmesan. Here is a recipe below of a nice simple salad I made which lets the seasonal ingredient-"the white asparagus" shine. This could work great for lunch or brunch.

Recipe follows

White Asparagus Salad

Organic Microgreens, raspberries, lemon zest and a Dijon Vinaigrette
Serves 4

This is a light, bright and seasonal salad which gives you a creative way to serve seasonal white asparagus

  • 1 Big Bunch of White Asparagus (At least 8 individual sprigs)
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 4 large handfulls of Microgreens
  • A bunch of raspberries
  • Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Lemon, zested
  • 1 Tbls French Dijon Mustard (a good quality brand is important here)
  • 3 to 4 Tbls French Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 shallot diced fine 
  1. Snap off the hard ends of the asparagus so you are left with moist tender parts. Wash, dry and peel them and reserve. 
  2. Meanwhile, boil water. White asparagus should take a bit longer than the green ones.
  3. Wash and reserve the microgreens
  4. Add White Asparagus to boiling water and cook for 5-9 minutes until tender but not overly done. Be careful that you don't cook too much or the delicate heads will start to fall apart. 
  5. Zest the lemon into the mustard, add diced shallots and sugar and slowly whisk in the vinegar. Keep whisking briskly until you have a soft paste.  Now whisk in the extra virgin olive oil until you have a consistency you like. Should be about 2/3 of a cup of olive oil. 
  6. Remove the asparagus gently from the boiling water. Lightly add dressing to microgreens in a large mixing bowl.
  7. Add a bunch of microgreens, top with raspberries and lastly 2 asparagus sprigs per plate crossing them to give the dish a bit of height.
  8. Finish with an extra dollop of dressing over the asparagus and a bit of left over lemon zest

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