Pack up chilled asparagus, egg salad for picnics

The garden is starting to show promise after long months of little edible yields. Peas, artichokes, radishes and rhubarb all are coming on in quantities large enough to constitute a meal. And still announcing its relevance with a few new spears every day is the asparagus patch.

Although it’s slowed down a bit in the past few weeks, there is still enough asparagus to be gathered over the course of several days for a fine salad. And of course, June is when Washington asparagus prevails in grocery stores, making this vegetable an ideal choice for warm-weather grilling and picnics.

Here’s a recipe for chilled asparagus that would transport well to an outdoor venue. Either serve it as directed or dip spears into the homemade green-garlic mayonnaise and use them to scoop up bits of egg salad. Although it’s a bit late in the season for green garlic, the plant’s scapes (touted in a previous post) made an effortless substitute here. I picked a big bunch from a friend’s garden this week and love using them like scallions or fresh garlic.  

Tribune News Service photo

Chilled Asparagus With Green Garlic Mayonnaise and Dijon Egg Salad

Kosher salt, as needed

2 bunches (2 pounds) asparagus, trimmed

4 large eggs, room temperature

Dijon Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

1/4 cup coarse fresh breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs, toasted

2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Green Garlic Mayonnaise (recipe follows)

Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan over high heat and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add the asparagus and cook, turning occasionally, until bright green and just tender, for 3 to 6 minutes. Drain and immediately spread on a paper towel-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Refrigerate uncovered until chilled.

Meanwhile, put the eggs in a small saucepan and add enough cold water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over high heat, then cover and remove from the heat. Let stand for 9 minutes. Drain and run under cold water until cool. Peel eggs and coarsely chop, then transfer to a bowl with the vinaigrette. Add the bread crumbs and parsley and fold gently until evenly mixed.

Pull paper towels out from under asparagus and discard. Drizzle the olive oil over asparagus and sprinkle with salt. Turn the spears with your hands to evenly coat.

Spread the mayonnaise all over a serving platter and top with asparagus, then egg salad. Serve immediately. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

DIJON VINAIGRETTE: In a large bowl, whisk 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon espelette pepper or hot paprika and kosher salt to taste. While whisking, add 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil in a slow, steady stream and continue whisking until vinaigrette emulsifies. Season with salt. Vinaigrette may be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

GREEN GARLIC MAYONNAISE: Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 stalk green garlic (1 ounce), trimmed and thinly sliced (about 1/4 cup) and a large pinch of kosher salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until bright green and tender but not brown, for about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool. Transfer cooled garlic to a blender, along with 1 large egg and 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice. Puree until smooth. With machine running, add 1/2 cup grapeseed or avocado oil in a slow, steady stream until mixture is thick like mayonnaise. Season to taste with salt. Mayonnaise may be refrigerated for up to 1 week.

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