White Asparagus with Lemon Pan Sauce

What comes first, the chicken or the egg? I have been asked how I create recipes for Z is for zest. Not an easy question to answer. When I start thinking about recipes for the site, sometimes I daydream about creating a delectable dish and other times I envision the photo shoot. Each aspect is equally exciting to me. 

This week I volunteered at the Seven Springs CSA Farm. I witnessed the farmers returning from the fields where they had plucked lettuce, scallions, bok choy, radishes and mixed baby greens right from the ground. The volunteers, including myself were responsible for cleaning these items, bagging and delivering all the bags to a co-op here in Roanoke. There is something to be said about being apart of such a process. I can’t express with words how much I enjoyed being outdoors in a serene atmosphere, knowing what was in the ground that day will be in the hands of local families that afternoon.

After my time on the farm, this reinvigorated me to continue my goal of using “in season” ingredients in my recipes. With that said, I knew I wanted to do something with asparagus then I started fantasizing about the photo shoot. Nothing says Spring like yellow and white. I translated this color scheme to white asparagus with a lemon reduction. That my friends is how this recipe transpired and a tiny peek into my brain.

White Asparagus with Lemon Pan Sauce
Serves: 4

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes

1 bundle white asparagus, cleaned & trimmed
1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp. shallot, minced
1/3 cup white wine
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. lemon zest
salt & pepper
1/2 T. butter
4 sprigs lemon thyme, picked

  1. Using a wide, deep pan bring enough salted water to cover asparagus to boil.
  2. Add asparagus and boil for 5 minutes.
  3. Dunk asparagus in an ice bath, dump out boiling water and place asparagus back in the same pan.
  4. Using a small saute pan, heat olive oil at medium-high temp.
  5. Add minced shallot.
  6. Saute for 1 minute, shaking pan. Be careful not to burn the minced shallot.
  7. Remove pan from flame and turn away from stove, add wine.
  8. Place pan back on burner and add lemon juice and lemon zest.
  9. Shake saute pan violently and continue to cook until reduced by half.
  10. Add a pinch of sea salt and a couple twists from a pepper grinder.
  11. Add butter and continue to shake saute pan until butter is melted and sauce is shiny.
  12. Drizzle sauce over asparagus and garnish with lemon thyme.

Cooking Notes:

  • Trick of the trade: Where do you cut off the ends of the asparagus? Take one stalk and towards the end gently break in half, it will break towards the end of the stalk. This is an indication where you should cut the other stalks.
  • Dunking asparagus or any other vegetable in an ice bath (a bowl with water and ice) stops the cooking process. If you skip this step, once you are done making your sauce your asparagus will be overcooked.
  • When deglazing (adding wine to sauteed minced shallot) you must be careful. I ask that you turn away from the open flame to avoid a potential fire.
  • Shaking the saute pan violently helps your sauce form and not “break” as they say in the culinary world. And, when I say violently I mean pretty damn hard.

Enjoy! From my kitchen to yours.

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White Asparagus with Lemon Pan Sauce

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Zaida Photography

Nicole from My Karma Kitchen visits Roanoke.  Nicole is a friend and fellow ICE Alumni.  Since graduation, we remained close and when she moved from NYC to Baltimore we immediately started planning a visit.  We spent the weekend doing a tiny bit of site seeing and a whole lot of catching up, cooking, eating and drinking. Oh, and we can’t forget the Food Revolution marathon.

It was nice to have someone so skilled in the kitchen to collaborate with.  I admit I have slacked off and haven’t kept my training up to snuff.  When Nicole asked me the last time I had made a pan sauce, I wanted to crawl under a rock.  I watched in awe as she prepared this recipe, she seriously could have done it blind folded.  I am still day dreaming about that spring salad.  Who knew adding a drop of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and honey to spring greens could taste so good?

Be sure to check back, we also made grilled artichokes.  

Scallops with Fresh Spring Greens & Orange Fennel Reduction
Serves: 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Orange Fennel Reduction
1 cup fresh orange juice
1/2 fennel bulb, roughly chopped
few fennel fronds
dash of cayenne pepper
1 tsp. whole peppercorns

  1. Using a 2-quart sauce pan, add all ingredients and begin reducing over medium – high heat.
  2. Reduce to approximately 1/4 cup.
  3. Strain and set aside.

Balsamic Reduction
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

  1. Using a 2-quart sauce pan, add balsamic vinegar and begin reducing over medium – high heat.
  2. Reduce until it reaches a thick, sauce like consistency. Otherwise known as nappe*. Approximately 1 – 2 Tablespoons.
  3. Remove from heat and set aside.

Fresh Spring Greens
baby greens (mix of arugula, watercress, pea and dandelion greens)
pinch of fennel fronds
1/2 fennel bulb, thinly shaved
1/2 watermelon radish, julienned
1/2 golden beet, julienned
1 T. freshly picked parsley, whole leaves
2 – 3 springs lemon thyme, picked
1/2 T. extra virgin olive oil
juice from 1/2 lemon
zest from 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. honey
salt & pepper, to taste
sliced almonds, seasoned and toasted
pinch of cayenne pepper

  1. Season greens with salt and pepper.
  2. Toss almonds with extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Season almonds with salt, pepper and pinch of cayenne pepper.
  4. Lay almonds on sheet pan and bake at 300 degrees for approximately 5 minutes or until you smell a nutty aroma. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
  5. Remove almonds, shake and cool.
  6. Gently toss all ingredients (including almonds) with olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest and honey.

Pan Seared Scallops
6 scallops, cleaned
salt & pepper
2 T. canola oil
1 T. butter

  1. Using paper towel, pat scallops dry.
  2. Season scallops with salt and pepper.
  3. Using a saute pan, heat oil and butter over high heat. 
  4. When oil and butter is screaming hot but not smoking, add scallops and sear 2 – 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Remove scallops and set aside. (do not wash saute pan, see next recipe)

Orange Fennel Reduction (continued)
1 orange, segmented
1 T. butter

  1. Remove fat from saute pan used to cook scallops.
  2. Over high heat, deglaze with reserved orange juice reduction.
  3. Add orange segments, about 5.
  4. Reduce until a thick, sauce like consistency. Otherwise known as nappe*.
  5. Remove from heat and finish with butter.

Plating

  1. Lay 3 scallops on small plate.
  2. Gently place salad on top.
  3. Drizzle orange fennel reduction around salad and plate.
  4. Drizzle balsamic reduction around salad and plate.

Cooking Notes:

  • Eyes. When cleaning scallops, do not forget to remove the “foot”.
  • Cooking time on scallops will vary. Use all your senses when cooking. Do not turn scallops until nice and brown. They are done when there is slight resistance to the touch and opaque in center. Do not overcook or they will dry out.
  • Nose. When toasting nuts, a good indication that your nuts are toasted is when you can smell their fragrance.
  • Touch. *Nappe is a cooking term meaning to coat back of spoon.  It is a good test to perform ensuring your sauces are thick enough.  Simply coat a spoon with sauce, take a clean finger and run it down the back of the spoon and if the liquid does not run through the line, your sauce is nappe.
  • Mouth. Taste your ingredients throughout the cooking process and adjust seasoning as you go, to your palate. Seasoning in layers will bring out the best in all of your ingredients.

Enjoy! From My Karma Kitchen to yours.

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If you live in the Baltimore area and are interested in taking cooking classes, be sure to contact Nicole at My Karma Kitchen to reserve your seat now.

Heather & Nicole

Nicole at Farmer's Market

Barker Baby

The Roanoke Star

Warrior Nicole

Zaida Photography