White Asparagus and Red Grapefruit and Green Goddess

/

White Asparagus and Red Grapefruit and Green Goddess

I look forward to big, fat springtime asparagus and I’ve allotted quite a bit of space to the beautiful green spears that deliciously beckon the arrival of warmer days. Some of my favorites include Bistro-Inspired Asparagus with Mimosa Sauce and Grilled Asparagus with Warm Crab Salad. Here in Southern California green asparagus season is April thru June. However, there’s another shorter (sweeter) asparagus season and it begins right now. I’m talking about white asparagus. White asparagus pairs beautifully with grapefruit. Which is great because Ruby Red Texas Grapefruit also hits its stride in March. Add to that a third seasonal favorite, California avocados, and you’ve got a White Asparagus and Grapefruit Salad with Green Goddess Dressing that suits the season perfectly.

Genetically speaking white asparagus is no different than green asparagus, with one exception. White asparagus never sees the sun so it never develops the chlorophyll that would turn the stalks green. It’s a time-honored agricultural process, and though farmers have a made some concessions for modernity, the cultivation of white asparagus has remained largely the same for many generations.

Farmers plant the stalks in long mounded rows. As the plants grow, the rising spears are piled with dirt. The least amount of sunlight could color the asparagus and ruin the entire crop. It’s a fascinating process, but the most important result the cook needs to know is that white asparagus develops a fibrous skin and therefore should be peeled before cooking.

As I said white asparagus is identical to herbaceous green asparagus (minus the chlorophyll). However, it tastes quite different because it carries the terroir of the soil its grown in. As with wine grapes, the soil actually influences the flavor. So my California grown Asparagus and Grapefruit Salad might taste different from the version you whip up in your own neck of the woods. That’s fascinating, don’t you think? GREG

AvocadoWhite Asparagus White Asparagus, Red Grapefruit, and Green Goddess

White Asparagus and Grapefruit Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 3-4Published

Peeling the asparagus is optional.

White Asparagus and Grapefruit Salad with Green Goddess Dressing

Ingredients

  • ½ cup green goddess dressing (see recipe)
  • ½ cup whole milk (or more or less, it depends)
  • 12 jumbo spears white asparagus (stalks carefully peeled and woody ends trimmed, see note)
  • salt (as needed)
  • 1 grapefruit
  • sesame seeds (as needed)
  • fresh tarragon leaves (as garnish)

Directions

Prepare the sauce: Whisk the green goddess dressing and about half of the milk together in a medium bowl. Once well incorporated add more and more milk until the sauce reaches a nice consistency. You are looking for a thick and creamy sauce that will slowly pour from a spoon but not become too soupy. Use your judgment, you might not use all the milk (or you might use more) it depends on the thickness of the dressing. Set the finished sauce aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Blanch the asparagus: Prepare an ice bath in a large bowl. Set aside.

Bring a large shallow pot of water to a boil, add a generous amount of salt. Carefully lay all the asparagus spears in the boiling water, making sure they are fully submerged. Boil 2-3 minutes or until tender-crisp. Do not overcook. Strain the asparagus spears and immediately plunge them in the ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain asparagus and set aside on paper towels to dry.

Create the grapefruit supremes: Working over a bowl to catch the juice carefully peel and remove the pith of the grapefruit then cut each section away from the membrane. Cut each supreme into 2 or 3 bite-size pieces; set aside.

To serve: Drizzle 2 tablespoon of the green goddess sauce in the center of each salad plate. Artfully arrange 3 or 4 asparagus stalks on top of each plate of sauce. Season lightly with salt and then sprinkle the asparagus with a few sesame seeds. Top with grapefruit pieces and drizzle some of the captured grapefruit juice onto the plates. Garnish with tarragon and serve immediately.

Green Goddess Dressing

Print This Recipe Total time Yield 1 ½ cupsPublished
Green Goddess Dressing

Ingredients

  • ½ ripe avocado (peeled and chopped)
  • ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley leaves (lightly packed)
  • 2-3 anchovy fillets
  • 1 clove garlic (peeled and chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions

In a blender or mini food processor, combine avocado, parsley, anchovies, garlic, chives, tarragon, sour cream, mayonnaise and lemon juice; blend until smooth. Scrape the dressing into a bowl and season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until serving time.