It’s asparagus season in our neck of the woods. It is a vegetable grown by the most patient of gardeners: it takes almost three years for asparagus plants to produce a harvestable crop. Asparagus is growing in popularity in the United States; however, the amount of land devoted to growing asparagus in the US has declined by 61% since 2004, with only 25,800 acres devoted to growing the persnickety veggie. This means the majority of asparagus sold at the market is imported. Stop by the farmers’ market and pick up some asparagus, or try your hand at growing your own – the reward is great: a super healthy veg with only 20 calories per serving, and that awesome feeling of having grown your own asparagus.
Asparagus preparations range from steamed to grilled, soup to salad. One of my favorite easy preparations is to wrap asparagus in prosciutto. Simply wrap prosciutto from just below the tip to the bottom of the spear. Heat some extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the asparagus until the vegetable is tender and the prosciutto is crisp. Serve immediately.
For something a little more glamorous, try Santé’s Delta asparagus salad. A true work of art, the salad includes hearts of palm, pickled pearl onions, radish, borage, nasturtium, champagne vinaigrette, and hen’s egg emulsion. Michael Bauer was impressed on his February visit and now you can impress yourselves and your family with this dish. Here’s the recipe:
Salad of Delta Asparagus, Hearts of Palm, Pickled Pearl Onion, Puffed Red Quinoa, Radish, Borage, Nasturtium, Champagne Vinaigrette, Hen’s Egg Emulsion (Serves 6)
For the Quinoa:
1 cup Red Quinoa
3 cups Water
½ White onion, skin removed
1 Small carrot, Peeled
4 Springs Thyme
2 Bay Leaves
Boil the Quinoa in the water along with the other ingredients
until quinoa has absorbed all the water and is tender.
Remove the finished quinoa and turn onto a sheet pan to cool.
Allow the Quinoa to air dry on a sheet pan at room temperature for 3 to4 days, or until the quinoa is quite dry.
Deep fry the Quinoa in 350 degree oil until the Quinoa has crisped.
Allow the Quinoa to drain on absorbent paper towels, and then store in a dry container until needed.
For the Champagne Vinaigrette:
1 cup Champagne Vinegar
5 cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp Dijon Mustard
Salt and Sugar to taste
In a blender; combine the vinegar and mustard.
Slowly drizzle in the oil until the vinaigrette has formed a emulsion
Season to taste with the salt and sugar.
For the Egg Emulsion:
1 tablespoon Whole Butter
Extra Virgin Olive Oil as needed
Salt to taste
Boil the eggs in salted boiling water for 4 ½ minutes.
Peel the eggs while still warm and place into a clean blender.
Add the butter and begin to puree.
Slowly add in the Olive Oil until a puree is formed.
Season with the Salt to Taste.
For the Asparagus
2 bunches of Green Asparagus, Peeled
Blanch each type of Asparagus, separately in boiling salted water until tender.
Chill the Asparagus in an ice bath until cold.
Remove and reserve.
For the Hearts of Palm
1 # of Fresh Hearts of Palm
Juice of 1 Lemon
Salt, to taste
Water to cover
In a medium Stock pot, cover the hearts of palm with water.
Season the water with the lemon juice and salt to taste.
Simmer the hearts of Palm until they are fork tender.
Allow the Hearts of Palm to cool in the cooking liquid
Cut the Hearts of Palm into small Circles, reserving any trimmings.
Finely chop the Heart of Palm trimmings and reserve.
For the Pickled Red Pearl Onion Rings
2 cup peeled red pearl onions, sliced into thin rings
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups Water
¼ cup sugar
Bring the water, vinegar and sugar to a boil.
Pour the hot pickling liquid over the sliced onion rings, and allow to cool refrigerated.
Finely Chopped Chives
Finely Chopped Parsley
Finely Chopped Chervil
Finely Chopped Tarragon
Finely Chopped Shallot
Thinly sliced radishes
Combine the chopped Hearts of Palm with a touch of chopped shallot, and chopped herbs.
Season with the Vinaigrette and salt and white pepper.
Dress the asparagus and cut hearts of palm with the vinaigrette and season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the prepared asparagus as well as the hearts of palm on chilled plates along with the pickled pearl onion rings and radish slices.
Dress the shaved raw asparagus with the vinaigrette and season with the herbs and shallots, salt and pepper.
Arrange the raw asparagus salad on the plate and garnish with the dressed nasturtium leaves and Borage blossoms.
Finish the dish with the prepared egg emulsion, and a drizzle of the remaining vinaigrette.