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White Asparagus Salad
with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

Serves four

White Asparagus Salad with Blood Orange Vinaigrette

 

Delicate, mild-mannered white asparagus makes a brief cameo appearance at farmers' markets and in grocers' produce sections each spring. Grab it when you spot it or you'll miss the opportunity to create this simple, sexy salad. The blood orange vinaigrette adds a tart-sweet flourish the color of a sunset. If blood oranges are not available, use tangerines or navel oranges. Also, keep in mind that unlike green asparagus, white asparagus should be cooked until it is quite tender, not al dente. Adding a little sugar and butter to the water during cooking keeps the asparagus from becoming bitter or tough.

1. Bring a 5-quart pot of water to a boil with the butter, sugar, and 1 tablespoon salt. Have ready a medium bowl of ice water.

2. Using a vegetable peeler, peel each asparagus stalk beginning 3 inches from the tip, being careful to peel completely through the tough skin. Cut the bottom 1/2 inch off of each stalk. Cook the asparagus in the boiling water for about 8 to 9 minutes, until tender; carefully remove with a skimmer and plunge into the ice water to stop the cooking. Drain the asparagus and pat dry on a clean kitchen towel. The asparagus can be cooked up to 1 day in advance and kept refrigerated.

3. Peel the oranges with a paring knife, completely removing all of the white pith as you go. Remove each segment by slicing between the membranes, catching the juices in a small bowl. Squeeze any remaining juice into the bowl; you should have about 1/4 cup. Add the vinegar, honey, and shallots. While stirring with a whisk, gradually add the oil; season with salt to taste. Reserve the orange segments in a separate bowl. The vinaigrette and orange segments can be kept refrigerated overnight.

4. To assemble the salad, arrange the asparagus on 4 serving plates. Carefully stir the orange segments into the vinaigrette and gently spoon over the asparagus. Sprinkle each salad with mint leaves.

 

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This page created August 2008