When the weather was frigid this past winter, all I could think of was the thick, dark drinking chocolate I drank when I traveled in Spain years ago. But now that it’s spring, and winter is trying (not hard enough) to take her leave, my mind is inspired by another of the Spanish delights I experienced for the first time there—white asparagus.

White, of course, always catches my eye, but white asparagus can’t trump spring’s green asparagus for pure green beauty. The green and the white asparagus are at heart different varieties of the same plant, but the white is kept that way under mounds of dirt. In the end white asparagus looks like it could use a few days in south Florida. My white asparagus, and yours, is not typically going to be local, either. It’s a treat, though, even if we’re stretching out to Peru to have some.

What we’re missing in white asparagus’s color is made up for in a flavor and texture that Europeans prefer over our more popular green. White asparagus, if cooked and dressed properly, yields delicacy, sweetness and tenderness; it is to me the ultimate companion to our pistachio oil and a dusting of pistachio nuts. Everybody is good to each other in this dish, generously allowing the others’ strengths to shine. The Lebanese love of pistachios would accept nothing less….

This is a simple post for simple food. But when ingredients are this extraordinary, all we’re really trying to do is stand back and let it all be. Handle with care. And prepare ourselves for a whole season ahead of the same.

White Asparagus with Pistachio Oil & Lemon
White asparagus takes much longer to cook than green asparagus; there is no pleasure in an al dente white asparagus spear (too fibrous and difficult to cut). The acidulated (lemon) water flavors the asparagus beautifully. An avocado added to your plate of asparagus is very good too. Makes 4 servings.

1 pound white asparagus
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon salt
20 pistachios, shelled
4 teaspoons pistachio oil
Sea salt, to finish

Trim the asparagus by breaking the ends off (at their natural break) and peeling from just beneath the tip to the end with a vegetable peeler. Place the asparagus in a large sauté pan and cover with water. Squeeze the lemon into the pan and add the teaspoon of salt. Cover and bring to a boil, cooking for about 20 minutes, or until a spear can be easily cut with a knife and fork. Drain and set aside to cool to room temperature.

To get the greenest pistachio nuts for garnish, remove the thin papery skin on each one by rubbing it off between your fingers and thumb. Coarsely chop the pistachios.

Divide the asparagus among four individual plates, or pile them evenly on a platter.

Sprinkle the pistachios across the center of the asparagus, forming a little line. Drizzle with pistachio oil, and finish with the salt.

Print this recipe here.

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