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Sautéed White Asparagus in Parmesan Tuile with Spring Greens & Aïoli
Unlike green asparagus which is grown above ground, white asparagus is cultivated underground. I love the flavor and appearance of white asparagus and use it for a variety of soups, salads, and sides in my restaurants and culinary school. Green asparagus, lavender-tipped white asparagus, or a combination of all three would work nicely in this salad. If you use green asparagus, however, you needn’t blanch it before sauteing.
To create our house herb butter, we blend unsalted butter with finely chopped yellow onions, chives, parsley, basil, dill, fennel greens, and garlic. We finish it off with a few drops of Worcestershire sauce, sea salt, and black pepper, and then blend it until white and fluffy. You may also add chopped anchovies.
2 cups water
½ cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
1 pound white asparagus, peeled
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon herb butter
1 pound spring greens
4 tablespoons aïoli
Chives for garnish
2 cherry tomatoes, halved, for garnish
4 strawberries, halved, for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Bring the water, wine, juice, and sugar to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch until tender, about 4 minutes. Remove from the water and immerse in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Dry on paper towels.
- Line a baking sheet with Silpat or parchment paper and sprinkle 4 - ¼-cup amounts of cheese to create the tuiles. You can use a form-giving round or square mold for this or simply sprinkle it by hand. Bake the cheese until golden and melted, about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove the tuiles from the oven and working quickly but carefully, place them over a rolling pin or wine bottle to create a taco-shell shape. Allow to cool.
- In a sauté pan, melt the herb butter and sauté the asparagus until warm, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Place a mound of spring greens on the serving plates. Place a Parmesan tuile atop the greens. Lay sautéed asparagus in the tuile and drizzle with aïoli. Garnish with whole chives, cherry tomato halves, and strawberry halves.
2001 Les Jamelles
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Quick Tip: Working with White Asparagus
Because white asparagus grows underground, it is woodier than green asparagus and requires a bit more preparation:
- If your asparagus has dirt on it, rinse but do not soak it.
- Peel the asparagus. There are two ways of doing this. If you’re afraid of snapping the asparagus spears, you can lay them on a cutting board and peel them in long strips from the tip to the base, rotating the spears as you work. Or you can do it the way I do it. Hold the asparagus in your hand so that the tip is in your fingers and the stalk rests on your hand and wrist. Peel from the tip to the base, rotating the spears as you work. I use an asparagus peeler, as it gives me more control and preserves more of the asparagus than a regular vegetable peeler.
- Remove the ends from the asparagus spears. You can cut the spears to uniform lengths, or you can let the asparagus tell you where it would like to be cut. The end will break at the point where it is the driest, and therefore oldest and woodiest. You can simply snap it off and discard.
- Your cleaned asparagus can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days in a wet towel, which will keep it moist and white.
© Marcel Biró and Shannon Kring Biró. From Biró: European-Inspired Cuisine cookbook (Gibbs Smith). All rights reserved.
Photo credit Marty Snortum.