Asparagus is a low calorie, high vitamin food and the perfect vehicle for transporting buttery sauce from plate to mouth.
In 1922, Emily Post, in her book Etiquette, gave permission to eat asparagus with one’s fingers so long as one does not “… squeeze the stalks, or hold one’s hand below the end and let the juice rundown one’s arm.” The choice is yours.
I have experimented with a variety of cooking methods since that first success and found that I prefer the flavor and texture of roasted or grilled asparagus. Traditional hollandaise comes to mind but in celebration of spring I made an orange hollandaise that was sublime. Here’s how I did it:
Roasted or Grilled Asparagus
I put the trimmed and peeled asparagus in a single layer on a roasting pan, drizzle them with olive oil and roll them around to make sure they are coated. Then, I season with salt and pepper and roast them in a 400º oven or cook them on a cast iron grill pan for eight to ten minutes or until they are tender and have browned a bit.
When I wanted fat-free asparagus I zapped them in the microwave, arranged like the spokes of a wheel with the tips in the center on a large dinner plate. I sprinkled the plate with a teaspoon of water before I covered it with a microwave-safe glass pie plate. The cooking time depends on quantity. I check to see if they are ready every thirty seconds after the first two minutes of cooking.
Orange Hollandaise Sauce
I put one tablespoon of white wine vinegar, one-tablespoon fresh orange juice, and five pepper corns in a small pan to simmer it until it reduced in volume by half. I strained the liquid it into a small metal bowl and used a wire whisk to beat in two egg yolks.
I put the bowl over a pot of simmering water and slowly beat in half a cup of soft unsalted butter. When the sauce was thick I added a teaspoon of grated orange rind, a pinch of salt and a wee bit of cayenne pepper.
If making Hollandaise is not how you want to spend a spring afternoon, a teaspoon of fresh orange juice and another of grated orange rind stirred into a quarter of a cup of mayonnaise is a simple alternative.
- white wine vinegar
- orange juice
- pepper corns
- egg yolks.
- unsalted butter
- cayenne pepper