Ooh la la! The asparagus season has begun! It has arrived a bit early this year due to the many sunlight hours and moderate temperatures we saw this winter. Asparagus is appearing on restaurant menus again and the markets have beautiful green ones, white ones and even sometimes purple ones on offer. On Thursday, 12 March I had the pleasure of opening the asparagus-selling season at Zon, a grower in Limburg. I was more than happy to do it since I’m an advocate of asparagus and think that this healthy vegetable deserves much more credit than it receives. For example, I asked some of my friends how they prepare asparagus at home and most of them didn’t have any idea how to make a tasty meal with it. Terrible! So of course we’re not going to pass it by at the market –‘cause asparagus is healthy!
The white asparagus variety is the most widely sold and produced in the Netherlands. The plants grow in asparagus beds in the ground. The green and purple varieties grow above the ground. Wild asparagus originated in India, by the way, where it was used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Our ancestors also used this vegetable as a natural remedy. Asparagus is high in minerals like magnesium, potassium, calcium and zinc. It also contains vitamins K, C, B and folic acid. It has a diuretic effect and contains MCM, a sulfur-containing amino acid that is good for your liver and that stimulates kidney function. That’s why your urine smells a bit of asparagus after you eat it ;-). And it gets better: due to its high vitamin E content, it is one of the most aphrodisiac foods available. Nice! Not that you now have to eat a ton of asparagus before a hot date, but if you make this recipe for him, you’ll definitely increase the likelihood of having a successful evening.
Green asparagus has a stronger flavor and is a bit sweet, and the white variant has a nuttier flavor. It is delicious combined with egg, avocado or wild salmon and gives your liver a boost.
This is how I like it best:
Supplies: vegetable peeler
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Ingredients (makes 10 asparagus spears)
10 asparagus spears
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, see recipe below
½ teaspoon (raw) honey
½ teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary
a small handful of parsley
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Peel the asparagus to the tops using a vegetable peeler and trim the bottoms. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the asparagus for 15 minutes. In the meantime, make the asparagus sauce by combining the mayonnaise, honey and mustard in a small bowl. Finely chop the herbs and add to the sauce. Stir well and bring to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Drain the asparagus and place on a serving dish. Top with the sauce and serve!
It might not be the healthiest recipe, but a dollop of mayo is always better for you and tastier if you’ve made it yourself. Making mayonnaise does require a bit of patience and there’s always a bit of anxiety as to whether or not you have achieved the right consistency. My father would often make mayo himself, but it working out was never sure thing. After much trial and error, this is the ultimate recipe.
Preparation time: approx. 20 minutes
Supplies: mortar and pestle, immersion blender
3 cloves garlic
2 egg yolks
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon mustard
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
200 ml rice oil
Finely crush and grind the garlic using a mortar and pestle and transfer to a measuring cup. Add the remaining ingredients, with the exception of the oil. Begin to blend using the immersion blender and add the oil drop by drop while the blender is running until the mixture has begun to thicken up. Once it has thickened, you can add the remaining oil a bit more quickly until it has all been incorporated. Bring to taste with salt and pepper. It makes a delicious addition to the asparagus sauce!