Asparagus “means spring has arrived and it’s worth the wait,” says cookbook author David Tanis, who eschews asparagus shipped from Chile or Peru in November. Newly arrived asparagus, he says, is sweet and toothsome. Here’s an excellent dish that speaks of spring and goes beautifully with roast lamb.
Warm Asparagus Vinaigrette
4-5 pounds fresh green asparagus
2 small shallots, finely diced
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup olive oil
Break off the tough ends of the asparagus spears and discard. If spears are quite thick, peel them with a sharp vegetable peeler. Fill two large pots with 4 quarts water each, salt the water heavily, and bring to rolling boil.
While the water comes to a boil, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, macerate the shallots in 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, with a little salt, for a few minutes. Then whisk in the olive oil and a little freshly ground pepper. Taste and re-season the vinaigrette, adding a little more vinegar and salt if necessary, but don’t make it too tart.
Just before you are ready to eat, put the asparagus spears in the boiling water and let them simmer briskly for 3-8 minutes, depending upon their size. Remove them when they are firmly al dente and still bright green. Lift asparagus spears from the water with a large strainer and let them drain on a clean kitchen towel for a couple of minutes. As they sit they will continue to cook a little bit.
Pile the spears onto a platter. Sprinkle lightly with salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk the vinaigrette and spoon it over the asparagus.
Makes 8-12 servings.
From “A Platter of Figs” by David Tanis