Yotam Ottolenghi is known for many things, including being the co-owner of five London delis and restaurants and the author of several bestselling cookbooks. What he may not be quite as well known for is his deep, abiding love of asparagus. In a recent article in the New York Times, he called the perennial flowering plant “a god among vegetables,” saying that as soon as they’re available at his local greengrocer in the spring, he will “grab them with both hands and throw them into a pot as fast as I can.”
Is it time for you to grab some of these “spring soldiers” for your operation? It’s a sure bet that after a long winter, diners will be eager to try a fresh, locally sourced green vegetable like asparagus. Ottolenghi advises allowing asparagus to shine on its own and not mix it with many other vegetables. He favors citrus and vinegar for the vital element of acidity in an asparagus dish. Want to learn more from the master? Check out his recipes, below.
If you’re looking for a new take on a classic veg, consider checking on the availability of white asparagus, which is prized for being sweeter and more tender than the green kind. Known as “white gold” or “edible ivory,” it’s developed by covering regular asparagus shoots with soil to keep them away from sunlight. Because photosynthesis does not begin, the shoots remain white.
How other chefs are serving asparagus
Asparagus happily takes to just about every prep method, so feel free to grill, blanch, steam, broil, oven-roast or braise it. If you’re looking for some inspiration, consider Fig and Olive in West Hollywood, which celebrates spring each year with a menu special of primavera risotto served with asparagus, green peas, pea shoots, parmesan, garlic and shallots. Chef Suzanne Cupps of Untitled at the Whitney Museum blanches asparagus, chars it on the grill, and tops it with soft goat cheese, ramp salsa verde and a fried egg.
At Charleston’s Indaco, chef Kevin Getzewich serves burrata with pickled strawberries, grilled and shaved asparagus, asparagus aioli and a dusting of housemade granola. At O Ku in Atlanta, Georgia the lobster temaki hand rolls each come with green asparagus, shredded red beets and black volcano salt.