Chilled Asparagus

May 8, 2009

…my greatest pleasure was the asparagus, bathed in ultramarine and pink and whose spears, delicately brushed in mauve and azure, fade imperceptibly to the base of the stalk—still soiled with the earth of their bed—through iridescences that are not of this world.
~Marcel Proust, Du Côté de Chez Swann, vol. I of À la Recherche du Temps Perdu

Is it overly evident that (eons ago) my favorite professor was a renowned Proust scholar? On reflection, he may have been partially responsible for my prolonged asparagus addiction. I have a passion for many foods, but a particular fondness for cold asparagus whether served with varied vinaigrettes or this juxtaposed citrus and garlic dressing.


2 lbs thick asparagus, bottoms snapped off
Sea salt

Zest and juice of 1 lemon
Zest of 1 orange
Zest and juice of 1 grapefruit
3 plump garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
3 T parsley, coarsely chopped
3 T mint, coarsely chopped
1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt

Bring water to a boil in a large stock pot and add a liberal dose of salt. Put the asparagus into the boiling water and cook briefly until crisp, less than 2 minutes. Remove and immediately plunge into an ice and frigid water bath for a couple of minutes, stirring some. Make sure the ice bath is sufficiently cold as you want to halt the cooking process abruptly.

Remove and immediately drain asparagus on towels, then transfer to a large baking dish or large platter. Add the lemon zest and juice, orange zest, grapefruit zest and juice, garlic, parsley, mint, salt and olive oil and gently toss. Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator, allowing all of the flavors to meld. However, do not allow to chill too long as the spears can become a bit soggy.


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