It’s the heart of asparagus season, so here’s a quick and easy asparagus recipe you can serve at room temperature or chilled.
The original recipe calls for P’tit Basque, a sheep’s milk cheese from the Basque region of France. And while I’m sure P’tit Basque tastes magical, like 10,000 unicorns dancing merrily across your tongue, you’re probably not going to find it without some considerable effort. So why even bother? It’s not like you’re hosting the goddamn King of France or anything. (France hasn’t had a king since 1870, dummy.) Manchego is a fine substitute and much easier to find. Or, hell, just grab a block of parmesan and call it a day. Let’s be honest: it’s not like you have any idea what the difference is. :p
If you’re not familiar with garbanzo beans (chickpeas), be advised: buying raw beans require cooking and soaking overnight. Do yourself a favor and just buy a can of pre-cooked garbanzo beans to save yourself 24 hours of thumb-twiddling.
One of my favorite lessons from Thomas Keller is the art of “Big Pot Blanching,” which you should try with the asparagus. By that, I mean you want to have a big enough pot of salted, boiling water on the stove so that inserting your vegetables doesn’t stop the boiling.
Think of it like a dance party — as soon as the DJ stops playing music, the whole darn place goes lethargic, right? By keeping a high water-to-vegetable ratio, you prevent the water from cooling, which cooks the vegetables faster and preserves their vibrant color.
When your asparagus is (are?) done boiling, you’ll quickly transfer them to an ice bath to shock them and stop their cooking. It’s like sitting in a jacuzzi, then hopping out and jumping into the pool. (You’ve never done that? Bah. You’ve never lived.)
Here’s the recipe:
Asparagus w/ Sweet Onions, Garbanzo Beans & Mint
- Asparagus: 2 pounds
- Fresh lemon juice: 1 Tbsp
- Kosher salt: ¾ tsp
- Freshly ground black pepper: ¼ tsp
- Extra-virgin olive oil: 2 Tbsp
- Medium sweet onion: ½, thinly sliced
- Cooked garbanzo beans: ½ cups
- Torn mint leaves: 2 Tbsp
- P’tit Basque cheese: 1 ounce, thinly sliced
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. While it heats up, trim the ends of your asparagus and prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water.
- Once your pot of water begins boiling, add the asparagus and cook 2-5 minutes, depending on thickness.
- Use tongs or a slotted spoon to transfer asparagus to the ice bath. Brr! Once they’ve cooled, drain and set aside.
- Whisk the lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl until the salt has dissolved. Add the oil slowly as you continue whisking. Once the oil has been added, taste the vinaigrette and adjust salt/pepper as necessary.
- Place your asparagus and onions in a shallow dish, and drizzle the vinaigrette over top. Toss until coated and allow to sit and marinate for 10-15 minutes.
- Scatter garbanzo beans and mint over top, followed by paper-thin slices of cheese. Grind fresh pepper over top and serve at room temperature or chilled.
- Recipe adapted from Chow.