Asparagus – king of vegetables

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Asparagus is without a doubt the king of all vegetables. In Denmark, the season is only a few weeks in the spring and early summer. In our family we eat them severval times a week, both green and the white. When I lived in the States, I seldom ate asparagus. First, because they were very expensive and because my mother always cooked them to much. In fact, I had never seen a white asparagus before I came to Denmark. I know now why. The chefs at the fine resturants in all parts of the world buy all the white asparagus they can get ahold of in the short and intense season which is only 6-7 weeks. Thank goodness, we have lots of asparagus. My mother-in-law taught me how to cook asparagus shortly after I came to Denmark. After peeling the white aspargus, the green doesn’t need to be peeled, they should be cooked in a large, deep frying pan where they can lay down or a pot where the asparagus can stand up. This way one is sure they have plenty of room and won’t be crowded. White asparagus should be cooked 8-10 minutes in let salted water. The green asparagus needs only 5-6 minutes. Of course, this is depending on how thick they are. After cooking the asparagus, my mother-in-law would take them up with a special designed spoon and after making sure that most of the water had dripped off of them, placed them on a fine white linen napkin. Of course, we used the best silver to eat them with. Wow! Nobody serves them on napkins nowadays, but it is just to show you how much respect the Danes have for asparagus.

Asparagus Salad with Dry Cured Ham and Mustard Vinaigrette

Serves 4

8-12 white asparagus, peeled

24 green asparagus if they are thin, 12 if they are thick, trimmed

12 slices of dry cured ham*

a mixture of green salad leaves

Vinaigrette:

½ cup/1 dl rapeseed oil

2 tbsp. white wine vinagar

½-1 tbsp. mustard

salt and freshly ground pepper

To make asparagus, place white asparagus in salted boiling water and cook until just tender. Remove from boiling water and plunge them into ice water to stop cooking process. Drain and set aside. Repeat with green asparagus. Make sure not to boil them too long. It’s depends on their thickness. Place salad greens on 4 plates and divide asparagus on each plate. Roll slices of ham up and place around the asparagus.

To make vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients together of pour over salad just before serving.

*Denmark had dry cured ham with the same quality as the Italian prosciutto and the Spanish Serrano ham.

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