Cooked in milk with soft fluffy slices of bread on top. White asparagus from Provence is a delicacy, which due to seasonally appearing is quite expensive and desirable. Although I grew up in Europe and have visited France several times, I had never eaten white asparagus from Provence until I came to the States, and what a huge difference it makes in taste and look to be grown in Provence. It is much bigger and fatter than regular size asparagus and you can buy it only in early spring until early summer, if you miss that short period you have to wait until next year.
I have only heard wonders about white asparagus from others, because I couldn’t justify to pay few times more than for green asparagus. But once I tried it, I immediately knew it was worth every penny. Compared to green asparagus, the locally cultivated so-called "white gold" or "edible ivory" asparagus, also referred to as "the royal vegetable”, is sweeter and much more tender.
Harvesting white asparagus is part of the mystery. Because white asparagus needs to be dug up while it is still hidden underground. The shoots are covered with soil as they grow, without exposure to sunlight, so the shoots remain white in color. Every stalk has to be coaxed from the sand by hand. The key to successful harvesting is to bend over and thrust the long tool into the soil from the side, not from above. Then jiggle it until it finds the center of the hard stalk and gently, firmly, lift it straight up. This requires strength (the stalks can be as much as an inch and a half in diameter) and balance.
Freshness is very important, and the lower parts must be peeled before cooking, and the hard ends cut off. I am sure there a plenty of recipes including white asparagus, but I like to keep it simple, steamed or cooked in milk married with home made mayonnaise, hollandaise sauce, vinaigrette, melted butter or parmesan and salt. Most recipes I found cook asparagus in water (heads sticking out of the water, stalks in a bundle). I cook mine in milk, I have learned this from a Per Se chef Jonathan, and after trying different ways of cooking this one is my favorite.
The asparagus season officially ends on June 24th so you still have few more weeks to enjoy this amazing vegetable.
1 lb of white asparagus from Provence
milk (enough to cover the asparagus)
few slices of white bread (I use challah or brioche)
Home made mayonnaise:
2 egg yolks
½ tsp. of whole grain mustard
½ tsp. of Dijon mustard
½ cup of grapeseed or canola oil
1 tbl of sherry vinegar
Clean the asparagus by peeling the skin off and cutting the ends.
In a wide pot (wide enough so the asparagus can be placed on the bottom without breaking the tips). Cover asparagus with milk; add a little bit of sugar and salt. Place slices of bread on top and cover with parchment paper. Boil for about 8-10 minutes.
In a food processor, combine egg yolks, mustard, vinegar and process until very smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in a very thin stream until it is fully incorporated and the sauce is thick and creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Plate the asparagus; you can serve it warm or chilled with the sauce on the side.
Biale szparagi z Prowansji
Kilka kromek bialego pszennego chleba
Sos: mozna uzyc vinaigrette ( oliwa z oliwek, ocet winny, musztarda, czosnek, przyprawy, sol, pieprz)
½ lyzeczki muszardy francuskiej
½ lzyczeki musztardy Dijon
1 lyzka octu winnego ( najlepiej sherry )
½ szklanki oleju roslinnego.
Oczyscic szpragi – obrac z twardej skory I obciac twarde konce
W garnku o szerokim dnie ulozyc szparagi, uwazac aby nie polamac glowek. Zalac mlekiem, dodac sol I odrobine cukru. Na wierzchu ulozyc kromki chleba, I przykryc papierem do pieczenia. Gotowac przez 8-10 minut.
W robocie kuchenym zmiksowac wszystkie skladniki oprocz oleju, kiedy masa jest kremowa dodac olej , caly czas mieszajac, wlewac cienkim strumieniem do momentu kiedy wszystkie skladniki sa dokladnie wymieszane a majonez jest gesty I kremowy.
Ulozyc szpragi na talerzu, mozna podawac albo cieple albo zimne z sosem.