I grew up eating carefully-steamed asparagus served with a knob of butter and splash of vinegar or fresh lemon juice. While I’ll always enjoy it that way, it doesn’t make for a very elegant presentation. I recently made Sauce Gribiche – a French classic – to serve on top of fish and thought it might be just as delicious over tender spring asparagus. I was right. Its texture may remind you a little of homemade mayonnaise, but since the egg is cooked you won’t risk offending any diners who aren’t fans of raw egg. You can make the sauce ahead and refrigerate though it will thicken a little more so be sure to remove from the fridge 30 minutes before serving and whisk it well just before you drizzle it over the hot asparagus. It’s peak season for fresh, local asparagus so I’ll be picking it up regularly at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market, who graciously supplied this batch as part of our spring Farmers’ Feast cooking challenge project.
- 1 pound fresh asparagus
- 1 hardboiled egg, cooked, peeled and chilled
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) Dijon mustard
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
- 1 teaspoon (5 mL) chopped dill
- 2 teaspoons (10 mL) chopped chives
- 2 tablespoons (30 mL) capers
- ½ cup (125 mL) olive oil
- Make the sauce first: Put the peeled egg in a saucer; add the mustard and about 1/4 teaspoon (1.25 mL) salt.
- With the back of a fork, mash the egg well. Transfer the egg to a high sided medium-sized bowl or two cup (500 mL) glass measure.
- Add the vinegar and lemon juice and stir quickly to blend. Add the dill, chives and capers.
- Slowly drizzle in the oil, using an immersion blender to combine the sauce (alternatively, you can whisk it really, really, really vigorously).
- The mixture should emulsify and become thick and shiny. If not, keep whisking or blending. You can also add a teaspoon or two of very cold water and that will help it bind.
- Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.
- Makes about ¾ cup (200 mL) of sauce.
- Snap the woody ends off the asparagus and place in a steamer basket over a pot with about 1 inch (2.5 cm) of boiling water. Cover with a tight lid and cook till the spears are just barely tender (time will vary greatly depending upon the thickness of the asparagus – anywhere from four to eight minutes. If you have some very thick and very thin spears, give the thick ones a two minute headstart on steaming before adding the thin ones to the steamer pot).
- Immediately remove the asparagus and place on a platter.
- Drizzle with sauce (you may not need it all) and serve.
Makes 4 – 6 servings.