I first appreciated and recognized seasonal eating about 15 years ago while visiting Europe in the Spring. Every night, at every restaurant, the specials were shared, and no matter where we went, the list ended with great reverence as they told us about the very special asparagus season, particularly white asparagus. The asparagus was always served with a hard-boiled egg and parsley vinaigrette, often prepared table side.
I loved this celebration of the season and respect for tradition. They celebrated the arrival of asparagus as a very special event, savored the season with traditional preparation, and let go of the season when asparagus stopped appearing at the market. When a vegetable is out of season, you wait until next year.
So it is with this reverence that we celebrate the asparagus season another week with Grilled Asparagus drizzled with a Green Herb and Hard Boiled Egg Vinaigrette. This dish is perfect hot or cold and is a very special side dish for any BBQ main served this weekend. It also travels well. Grill the asparagus in advance and prepare the vinaigrette, then drizzle just before serving. It is best at room temperature.
In a deviation from European tradition, mint is added to Italian flat leaf parsley. I like the spring kick it provides and, as anyone who has ever grown mint can appreciate, you will always have an abundance at hand as it grows like a predatory weed.
So, celebrate the opening season to summer and the tapering season of the asparagus. Then take a moment and remember what this weekend is really all about. A salute and deep bow of appreciation and remembrance for those who sacrificed so much to protect us throughout history.
We will be remembering Grandaddy who bravely flew helicopters during the Vietnam War, and recently departed Uncle Pete who, at the age of 18, stepped off a boat on the Normandy coast and made it home alive, never able to discuss his experiences for another 50 years. The bravery of these men humbles me. I hope to never face the horrors they have seen and I will take this weekend to remember that the life I enjoy today carries a very heavy weight by all of those who fought to protect it.
Now….go enjoy your asparagus…while it is still here.
- 1 lb. fresh asparagus, remove rough ends and rinse
- 4 scallions or spring onions, ends and rough tops removed, finely chopped
- 1 cup loosely packed Italian flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
- ½ cup loosely packed mint leaves, finely chopped
- 1 Tablespoon capers in brine, drained (or may substitute chopped cornichon pickles or dill pickles), roughly chopped
- 2 teaspoons (or more, to taste) white wine vinegar or sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 hard boiled eggs (about 15 minutes to make sure yolk is fully cooked and almost powdery)
- 1 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Coat the asparagus spears in oil and season with salt and pepper.
- Grill over hot grill until lightly browned but still holding their shape. (Or, you can grill in a griddle on a stovetop or broil in a 400-degree oven.)
- While the asparagus is cooking, remove the egg yolks and place in a bowl with the vinegar and mustard. Mash the yolks together with the vinegar and mustard until smooth.
- Chop the egg whites finely and set aside.
- While stirring constantly, whisk in the olive oil. Blend until emulsified. (Or, you can place it all in a mason jar to shake to combine, or use a hand-held blender.)
- Add the parsley, mint, egg whites, scallions, capers and gently stir.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, and more vinegar, if desired.
- To serve, drizzle vinaigrette over asparagus and put the vinaigrette in a bowl with a spoon on the table for guest to add more (and they will add more!)