By now, the wait for spring asparagus might seem a bit cliché. 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 they’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 clichés, these statements are true because they speak to something universal about spring —about the wait being over. This is why the first thing I do with spring asparagus is blanch them—because at this point I don’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 you’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.