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Asparagus with sauce

This was one of the dishes suggested on the June DOTM voting thread, but wasn't chosen.

I'm certainly not looking to detract from the chosen DOTM thread, but there was definitely enough expressed interest, especially by (I think) those of us in the Midwest and East who don't have the luxury of year-round local produce, something I envy of the West Coasters. I understand that many who have had local asparagus for several months are tired of it - but it's just coming into season here in New England!

So - my usual way of making asparagus is steaming or roasting after tossing it with some olive oil, salt and pepper. On occasion, I've done a pistachio gremolata (which was very good!) But I know that there are lots of other ways to top asparagus, and creating a sauce, like hollandaise or bearnaise, is one.

Tonight, I'm going to try this as a side dish with roasted chicken:


I don't have oranges, but I do have some orange juice that I'll reduce, and I have some dried orange zest that should work.

So - what's your favorite way to sauce asparagus? OR do you make an "asparagus sauce" which, I would think, could be used as a pasta toss?

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  1. I rarely ever put sauce on my asparagus. Sometimes I top it with hollandaise foam, it's pretty tasty and guests always go nuts over it because most of them are too intimidated to make hollandaise. I do it sous vide then toss it in an iSi, it's foolproof, a 5 year old could do it.

    Recently I topped asparagus with a black garlic, butter, shallot, and walnut (thought I had pistachios, but I didn't so I used walnuts) mixture, also really good.

    I generally just throw my asparagus under the broiler for a bit, or put it on the grill, or sometimes just hit it with a torch. I mostly use avocado oil on it because of its high smoke point.

    6 Replies
    1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

      Very curious about your sous vide hollandaise? How and what?

      1. re: OCEllen

        I use this recipe:

        However, I find that keeping my water bath at 67.5C the entire time works better than their temperatures. They note at the bottom that hollandaise holds best at 65-70C so I just keep it at 67.5C the entire time, I've found that it works better that way. I also hit it with an immersion blender before I pour it into my siphon.
        I really like keeping it in a siphon because it stays good for a long time like that with no degradation and is easy to serve lots of people even with limited space otherwise.
        I also hear that you can make hollandaise, put it in the siphon, and cool it down and put it in the fridge for 1-2 days and then just heat it back up in a bath and it will be nearly identical to freshly made hollandaise.
        Also, if you discharge all the n02 out of the siphon, after the contents are cool, you end up with a hollandaise "butter," it's quite tasty on toast the day after it's made.

        1. re: LindaWhit

          Aerosol canister for whipping cream & the like

          1. re: LindaWhit

            Just a whipping siphon. It's probably the best brand though (at least their professional models, I can't comment on the regular ones), their valve design really leaves nothing to be desired, plus there are all kinds of cool accessories for it.

        2. My favorite way to eat asparagus is very simple, just some butter, S&P, and a generous grating of Parmesan cheese. Leftovers are great stirred into scrambled eggs.

          1. I love that you started this thread. I was really hoping for this dish to win. I waited all winter for asparagus and now can't get enough.

            2 Replies
            1. re: fldhkybnva

              I can't get enough either. I bought two large bunches at my local market today, fieldhawk. It's not *quite* MA local asparagus yet, but it's getting there - at least it's not imported from Peru!

              1. re: LindaWhit

                So true! The stores still have Peru or Mexico but the Farmers' Market now has tons of normal-sized (read: not club sized) spears. It's still a hefty price but I'm OK with that now that I've resolved to only eat it in season.

            2. Don't usually sauce asparagus unless I blanch and chill it and then add to some greens, typically dressed with a lemon vinaigrette -- which is what I think I may do tonight.

              Tonight's asparagus is the remains of 2 lbs bought at the farmers' market on Thursday. The first half was consumed steamed, plain for me, a bit of butter on DH's.

              (And, yes, for those of us in 4 season climates who are only now getting local asparagus, it is such a treat, even though we've been eating the Mexican and Californian for months.)

              1. Just curious, but what does everyone pay for asparagus?
                In Seattle it starts at around $6/lb in the early season but is like $4/lb now at least at a local co-op and farmers markets. I think you can probably get it at Safeway around here on sale for like $2/lb but I don't know for sure since I don't shop there.

                17 Replies
                1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                  I just paid $2.99/lb here in Massachusetts, but I've seen it as high as $4.99/lb, depending on where it's coming from and what season it is. No idea what it'll be when it finally is local.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    $2.99/12 oz. in our local TJ's (organic, local) here in NOB Eastern MA.

                    Our Farmers' Market doesn't start till 12 June.

                    1. re: Gio

                      Ahhh - thanks, Gio! Didn't realize that TJs was local asparagus yet!

                      1. re: LindaWhit

                        Well, to be clear, I don't remember if the farm or location were named.

                    2. re: LindaWhit

                      I paid $5 a pound for local asparagus at a Boston area farmers market this weekend. Second week I've seen it, but I believe some farms were harvesting a bit earlier.

                      It's a very short local season. Since I know I won't be paying that forever, I do buy it, because I love it so much and it is such a fleeting pleasure. The difference between local and shipped in asparagus is to my palate astounding. (and I love all asparagus).

                      1. re: Madrid

                        Argh. I'm a bit north of the city, and there are no farmers markets open yet up by me.

                        Lawrence, Lowell, Methuen, Andover, BIllerica, Haverhill, Wakefield (which I would only get to if I was down that way getting my hair cut) - and none are open until late June or early July. And Farmer Dave's farm stand on East St. in Tewksbury doesn't open until mid-June either.

                        So unless I get into SOWA one Sunday, I doubt I'll have local-local-local asparagus.

                        1. re: LindaWhit

                          Wilson Farm is selling their own for $5.99/lb. That's probably too far for you, though. Unless you like to drive...

                          1. re: Gio

                            I love to drive. But it would have to be a multi-destination trip....such as if I wanted to go to Penzeys down the road in Arlington. :-)

                            1. re: LindaWhit

                              or the Armenian stores in Watertown, and stop by Sofra...

                    3. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                      safeway's been about $2.80-$3...sometimes you can find it for $2 at the asian markets in seattle~

                      1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                        Our farmers market is selling local asparagus in "bunches" that are about 2/3 to 3/4 of a pound apiece. One bunch for $2, or 3 bunches for $5. I've been buying 3 at a time, which I figure comes to $2.50/ lb. I am in Chicago.

                        1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                          Local: $5/lb in the beginning of the season at the Farmers' Market. $3-4/lb mid season

                          Imported: $2-3/lb at the grocery store.

                          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                            Local, organic is about $8/lb at the farmers' markets, in Vancouver. Imported, conventional is about $4/lb. So you can imagine what my DH is buying (haha).

                            1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                              Farmers market $6/ lb in nyc, imported at the grocery store $4.99/lb, sometimes goes on sale to $3.99/lb.
                              Organic is another $2/lb

                              1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                Mpls/St Paul area: Conventional, at the supermarket, $2.99 lb, farmers market $5.00 lb. But I gladly make the trek to the Mpls farmers market (I much prefer the St.Paul market in general) to buy from a fellow who sells only asparagus, now through June, for $6.00 lb. in 3 or 4 lb. paper bags. It is the best asparagus I've ever tasted and well worth both the drive and the money.

                                1. re: Pwmfan

                                  Thanks for this info Pwmfan - I may have to trek into the city to compete for some of that Mpls farmers asparagus.

                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                    I'm sure you won't be disappointed! I'm just finishing up last week's haul and it is still crisp and tender. My brother made a salad last night with his leftovers and said the same thing. I think the name on the truck is Quality Produce (not totally sure) but I remember for sure that it saidCold Spring as well. Heis the only vendor who sells in brown paper handle bags instead of bundles.

                              2. Another non-saucer here but on occasion, like when I have company and I want something a little more, I sub asparagus into this recipe for string beans with shallots. Simple and good.


                                Or when I roast them, I sometimes add a little parmesan cheese.

                                1. I like lemon with asparagus.....so I'll often drizzle it with lemon flavored olive oil (Rancho Olivos makes a fabulous meyer lemon oil....you can order from their website). Then I grate some lemon zest over it. If I want to add some more flavors, I might add an egg.....and/or some prosciutto.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: perk

                                    One method is an asparagus stir fry. Destem and chop asparagus to about 1 inch, reserving tender ends. Cook in olive oil until slightly browned. Add very thin garlic slivers and chili flakes, cook for 1 more minute on high. A small amount of soy and lime juice., Then toss around again. One can also serve this as an appetizer in a hot bowl - people will gobble them up.

                                    If the asparagus are this, add water and asparagus to the pan, cover to soften them, letting all the water reduce out.

                                    Haven another variation where one can add a tapioca slurry after the garlic, and it will turn into a nice sauce.

                                  2. A review of this orange sauce. Perhaps a wee bit too orangey for asparagus, but it was very nice! I actually think this sauce would be good on chicken or slices of pork.

                                    Later in the week, on to another sauce I found on the Interwebs. :-)

                                    7 Replies
                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        This may be a little too much 'inner home cooking' but:
                                        When you are making say a sauce or pairing ingredients for to be served together here's a tip.
                                        Look at the colour of the asparagus after you've done whatever it is before serving it. Look at the colour of the, in this case your orange sauce.
                                        Next time you're out shopping go buy a colour-wheel at a art supply store. (I have one in a kitchen drawer).
                                        Really look at the colour of the asparagus. Yes it's green but what colour green? Once you match the green on the colour-wheel look across at it's exact complimentary colour. It's going to be a shade of red. Think of how many 'food porn' photos show a green veg. with just the suggestion of a complimentary red. Like chili flakes or finely chopped red bell pepper. Peas and carrots?
                                        Your sauce could be a little 'orangier' to compliment and contrast with the green of the asparagus.
                                        I keep the concept of using complimentary colours and secondary colours in mind when I'm cooking. Especially for more fancy dinners.
                                        One of the things that made Escoffire a food genius was his understanding that the colour of foods were like colours on an artist's palette.

                                        1. re: Puffin3

                                          I thought LindaWhit was referring to the flavor but maybe I'm wrong and good points about color matching.

                                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                                            Yes, definitely about the flavor (but I could see how it's confusing if one hasn't read the same post on the WFD thread).

                                            1. re: linguafood

                                              I just don't think about colors much so the alternative interpretation never popped into my head :)

                                            2. re: fldhkybnva

                                              Yes, I was referring to the orangey flavor. Reducing the orange juice intensified it a bit more than I would have liked.

                                              As for the picture - the lighting is bad in my kitchen, and I don't have a smart phone (and no flash on my old phone). The orange did contrast nicely with the green of the asparagus.

                                              It was just the flavor that was a bit too overpowering for the asparagus.

                                            3. re: Puffin3

                                              Hmmm - I have a color wheel from when I thought I wanted to paint, then figured out that I can can't. I'll get it out and put it into the kitchen.

                                          2. Most of the time i eat mine roasted with salt/pepper/oil either naked or dunked in hummus.

                                            I made this asparagus salad for a brunch potluck a while ago and it was a huge it, i had my seving ontop of salad greens which was great. The dressing is kind of basic but very mustardy- i used maille for both. I also added a handful of chopped walnuts

                                            1. I like to broil the thick stalks with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon juice, red pepper flakes and slivered parmesan.

                                              Also good served room temperature and drizzled with home-made lemon mayo.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                That is my go-to for asparagus. So simple and delicious.

                                              2. Steamed just to get warm, not to cook (I'm sure the correct marketing term would be "crisp-tender") then "Sauced" only with grey salt.

                                                Kris now in NoVA

                                                1. A sauce made from browned butter, soy sauce, and lemon juice.

                                                  1. Growing up, my mother only served asparagus 2 ways.

                                                    One was in a pasta dish which I'm planning on making tomorrow. The asparagus is blanched and sliced, then tossed in a pot with lots of olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Grilled chicken is tossed in with cooked penne or farfalle, and tons of fresh basil. Very simple and fresh and delicious.

                                                    The other way was blanched and sautéed in olive oil with garlic, fresh tarragon, and lemon. Again, so simple, but it's the only way I eat asparagus still, all these years later. The tarragon adds something so unique and it's just not the same without it.

                                                    1. I like the reduced orange juice idea, Linda, but my usual and easiest go-to is to roast the asparagus in a little olive oil and season with sea salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

                                                      1. Since we're supposed to be talking about sauce, something that is good to me is to saute shallots and then make a beef based sauce, thickened just a little, with a bit of sherry, adding several types of good mushrooms, blanched asparagus, and tarragon. Good on farfalle or gemelli. For some reason, I don't put garlic in this.

                                                        While I like plain roasted, plain grilled with salt, asparagus can stand up alongside bigger flavors.

                                                        1. Here in Germany, where white asparagus is king (and the season shorter than for green asparagus), there are a few traditional sauces: drawn butter & hollandaise being the most popular. Often, chopped fresh parsley is added to the drawn butter. I've also had it recently at a French bistro with chopped hard-boiled eggs and a tangy vinaigrette, which apparently is Polish-style.

                                                          In any event - I NEED to get myself some of this stuff before June 24, which is the official end of asparagus season in the fatherland.

                                                          6 Replies
                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                            When I am feeling ambitious, steamed asparagus with sieved eggs and caper vinaigrette is one of my favorites. Another favorite treat is asparagus bundles wrapped in prosciutto or lox and drizzled with lemon-chive oil.

                                                            More often, though, I roast my asparagus and drizzle it with balsamic vinegar or a spray of lemon juice. My mother used to serve smelly vegetables like asparagus and brussels sprouts with mayonnaise, so I sometimes do the same for a taste of nostalgia.

                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                              After reading the whole thread I realised it was about green aspargus. But even then I usually eat it simply with some (always good!) butter or Spanish olive oil and salt ('white asparagus' needs no salt. Too precious!). I like both kinds best on the barbie regardless.

                                                              @LF, are you back in DE now? You have a lot of catching up to do! Schnell! I've scored my 8th kilo this week :D

                                                              1. re: Pata_Negra

                                                                I sooooo do, PN! And I have to wait yet another week, as I'll be in London for most of this one. Wah!

                                                                But yeah, I definitely need to buy my share before it's too late.

                                                                ETA: Holy mother of spargel, I just took a closer look at your pic and LOVE it. Hope you don't mind I took a screen shot so I can share with my other food-obsessed buds on Fb :-D

                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                  I dont' mind at all. Download a bigger version here: http://tinyurl.com/kkd7bml
                                                                  To keep eating it when the season is over just peel and freeze the whole thing in portions. It can only be steamed but that's also nice. Or next time you return to DE earlier :D

                                                                  (Some pics of Spargel eaten at home: http://tinyurl.com/kczksk6)

                                                                  1. re: Pata_Negra

                                                                    17 kilos of spargel? Whoa. You're my new hero of spargeldom.

                                                              2. re: linguafood

                                                                that's my favorite prep - steamed and strewn with chopped hard boiled eggs with a lemony-Dijon dressing.

                                                              3. Here's one I like to make. It's from the A16 cookbook. One reason to love this sauce is that it works so well on other items, like pasta, so making a full batch will give you some leftovers for another application.

                                                                For walnut crema:
                                                                Kosher salt
                                                                1 ½ cups raw walnuts
                                                                ½ cup plus 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
                                                                1 small red onion, diced (about 1 cup)

                                                                To make the walnut crema, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add the walnuts, and blanch for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender in the middle. Drain the walnuts, reserving ¼ cup of the cooking water. Set aside separately.

                                                                In a small skillet, warm 1 Tbsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt, and sweat for about 7 minutes, or until golden brown and softened. Remove from the heat.

                                                                In the bowl of a food processor, combine the walnuts, the reserved cooking water, and the onion, and process until creamy. Taste for seasoning. With the motor running, slowly add ½ cup olive oil, processing until blended. The crema should have the consistency of a creamy hummus. If it seems too thick, add a little water. Taste again for seasoning, and then transfer to a bowl or other container. Cover, and hold at room temperature. (Crema can be stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for a few days. Bring to room temperature before serving.)

                                                                2 Replies
                                                                1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                  I like this idea, cacio! And also like the idea of adding it to a pasta for later use as well. Thanks!

                                                                  1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                                    LOVE this!!!
                                                                    I make cashew cream often but have never heard of this with walnuts....

                                                                  2. I mostly roast my asparagus, but I also love a steamed, chilled asparagus with a tangy mustard lemon sauce, prepared according to a recipe in my much-used Green on Greens cookbook.

                                                                    1. Made my first asparagus dish of the season last night.

                                                                      Not sure if this is considered a sauce...

                                                                      Grilled a chicken breast with s + p.

                                                                      In a skillet, heated a lot of extra virgin olive oil and sautéed a few garlic cloves with some red pepper flakes briefly. Tossed in 1/2 a bunch of chopped asparagus and let it cook briefly.

                                                                      In went some cooked pasta, the sliced chicken, and 2 handfuls of torn basil from the garden.

                                                                      My mother made this dish often when I was a kid and it was always a crowd pleaser. Fresh and simple and bright.

                                                                      1. Warm potato and grilled asparagus salad with a very Dijony vinaigrette and snipped chives, parsley and thyme from ny herb pots. The asparagus is from my local farmstand (Wilson Farms) and as Gio says it is $5.99/lb. They also had NJ asparagus at $3.99 a pound but it wasn't as nice looking.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: GretchenS

                                                                          That looks lovely, Gretchen. I see you shave the stalks. I recently read it's unnecessary so I've tried not doing it for the last few batches, and it really didn't make any difference, I thought.. I suppose with thicker stalks it probably is a good thing.

                                                                          1. re: Gio

                                                                            My mother always peeled the stalks. I have not for a long time, just did the snap-it-where-it-breaks thing. Then I bought some asparagus from an asparagus farmer last time I was in CA and he said that people who do that waste a lot, that you should just cut off an inch from the bottom and peel and you get lots more for your money and he seems to be right. If I am in a big hurry I still do it the "wasteful" way though, it sure is faster!

                                                                            1. re: Gio

                                                                              I've never peeled asparagus, and while I used to be a snapper, I've switched to trimming (except for cases of extreme laziness/expediency, like GretchenS). I prefer medium to thick stalks over thin because they're juicier, and even with thick stalks I find that with farmers' market asparagus, I can just cut off the bottom inch and half or so (till I can see that it's not woody), and what remains is perfectly tender. That might not be the case with older or well-traveled asparagus, but I pretty much only buy it when it's available at the local farmers' market here - feast for three months, famine for nine.

                                                                            1. re: sweetpotater

                                                                              That is so interesting, it's a version of Sauce Gribiche, which is on my list for this week. Here are two other variations: http://orangette.blogspot.com/2009/05... I have my eye on the Chez Panisse version.

                                                                              1. re: sweetpotater

                                                                                I'm getting a 404 from that link.

                                                                              2. My favorite is Julia Child's lemon butter, a variant of Beurre Blanc. It is just lemon juice, reduced severely, then butter whisked in, bit by bit, adding the next bit when the last one has just melted. A very simple sauce to make, but temperature is critical.

                                                                                1. Tonight I made a warm fruit salsa to go over both steamed asparagus and seared swordfish steaks. We've been very much a lemon-hollandaise only family (for asparagus, that is), but this salsa was a nice change.

                                                                                  Diced equal amounts of pineapple & red bell pepper are added to sauteed garlic, seasoned with 2 t. soy sauce and when warm garnished with chopped fresh mint.
                                                                                  Recipe here

                                                                                  Our rock-garden mint is about 6 inches tall, so I'll be looking for more ways to use it. Asparagus with mint sauce, maybe?

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                    Would be nice with lamb.

                                                                                    I recently made this chimichurri: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/foo... which uses up a good cup of mint. You could probably use more mint and less of the other herbs.

                                                                                    1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                      Ick! Competeing strong flavors. Not to be mixed.

                                                                                    2. My preferred way is roasted with just a little olive oil, S&P, occasionally a little shaved parm.

                                                                                      My husbands fave is with hollandaise. While yummy it's a little too rich for me.

                                                                                      My ultimate favorite is asparagus pesto. Once I start seeing local asparagus I make huge batches and freeze. I replace half the basil with asparagus and play around with nuts-pine, walnut, pistachio. It makes an amazing base for pizza, a topping for pasta or bruschetta. I'll add a dollop on top of creamy cauliflower soup or corn chowder.

                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                        Thank you for this! I have half the asparagus left today and wasn't sure what to do with it. I'm going to buzz up a batch of asparagus pesto for pizza... Do you blanch/cook the spears at all beforehand, or use them raw?

                                                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                                          I just use them raw. Hope you enjoy!

                                                                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                                                                            Okay thanks, I Googled last night and found recipes calling for raw. I'm planning on giving it a shot tonight. Will report back!

                                                                                      2. For anyone looking to make a small-batch hollandaise, the One Egg Hollandaise recipe posted by RelishPDX is a keeper.


                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. Last night my fish shared its sauce with some local asparagus. I probably wouldn't have sauced it had if I cooked it in a timely manner but it was lost in the fridge for a week (gulp). I started with butter in a pan for the fish and added a mixture of white wine and lemon juice to the empty pan. My husband says I should have reduced the wine first and squeezed lemon juice over the finished dish. (He was a restaurant line cook for most of his twenties and lemon wine and butter sauce was put on everything back then). I will try again using fresh asparagus as it's everywhere these days.

                                                                                          7 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: Berheenia

                                                                                            Do you - or anyone else on this thread - stand the asparagus bunch in a glass of water in the fridge? I've been told that helps keep it fresh for a week or more, but haven't tried it.

                                                                                            1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                              I don't. I used to, but had to use two lowball glasses for the entire banded bunch of asparagus, and it took up too much room on the top shelf. I have some green bags that helps keep it fresh, but I usually use it quickly enough so there's less chance of spoiling.

                                                                                              1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                I always used to but now we have a cramped refrigerator so I buried it in the veg drawer.

                                                                                                1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                  No, but that's a good idea - keeps it front and center so one doesn't forget about it. That's how my market stores it for retail

                                                                                                  1. re: MidwesternerTT

                                                                                                    Yes to standing the asparagus in water, but I use an old 3 pound coffee can for 2 bunches and a smaller tall can (large pineapple juice can) for 1 bunch. The tops of the cans are loosely covered with a plastic bag. Keeps a week or more.

                                                                                                    1. re: jmnewel

                                                                                                      How often do you change the water, please?

                                                                                                      1. re: Gio

                                                                                                        Well, I usually use the asparagus by the 3rd or 4th day, so the water doesn't get changed. Once, though, plans changed at the last minute, so I changed the water on the 4th day and used the asparagus on the 7th day. The tip of one tip was a little bit mushy, but everything else was just fine.

                                                                                                2. Last night: meyer lemon (juice and zest), feta and thyme vinaigrette with chopped Kalamata olives and feta crumbles over barely blanched local asparagus. I have been roasting and grilling asparagus pretty much since I discovered these methods but recently had a stellar asparagus salad in a restaurant that was still almost crunchy so I decided to try that. I really liked it for a change of pace.

                                                                                                  LW, I am really glad you started this thread as it has pushed me out of my plain grilled or roasted asparagus rut!

                                                                                                  1 Reply