By now, the wait for spring asparagus might seem a bit clichĂ©. We talk about these green veggies bursting from the just-thawed soil as a harbinger for warmer days to come. We discuss the virtues of about eating them in season when theyâ€™re at their best, and we describe the agony of waiting for a patch planted in a garden years ago to finally come to fruition. And like most clichĂ©s, these statements are true because they speak to something universal about spring â€”about the wait being over. This is why the first thing I do with spring asparagus is blanch themâ€”because at this point I donâ€™t want to wait much longer to enjoy them at their best.
While the asparagus are chilling in the ice cold water to preserve their bright-green color, I make the fastest of toppings: white vinegar, sugar and a mess of chopped shallots. You can add herbs if youâ€™d like, but the pucker of the white vinegar, tamed by the sugar and made pungent with oniony flavor from the shallots is all the extra flavoring I could want or need. I spoon that mixture over the asparagus, add a drizzle of olive oil and dig in for my first bite of spring.
- 1/4 cup white vinegar
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 1 tsp. granulated sugar
- 1 pound asparagus, woody ends removed
- 1/2 T. kosher salt
- extra-virgin olive oil
In a large bowl, combine cold water and ice. Set aside.
In a small bowl stir together vinegar and white sugar until dissolved. Stir in shallots. Set aside.
Bring a large saucepan (big enough to hold the asparagus) of water to a boil. Add asparagus and salt; cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until asparagus are just tender when pierced with a fork. Drain and transfer to ice bath. Let chill 10 minutes or until cool.
Remove asparagus from the ice bath, and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to a serving plate. Spoon over shallot mixture, drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.