Asparagus with Young Garlic and Horseradish

May 28, 2012

Asparagus, Young Garlic, and Horseradish

Once you buy local asparagus, two things happen. You can't go back to the grocery store variety. And greed sets in. You need to have it every day, until it's gone again. Most times I'm happy to have asparagus plain, or nearly. I tend to sprinkle it with aromatics or textures, like this recipe with pancetta and breadcrumbs. This year, the young garlic has been plentiful at the market, and while I admit the following makes me sound like a food jerk, I had extra young garlic in the fridge. It's true, I did. Don't hate on me people. This is my job!

Aspargus with Young Garlic and Horseradish 

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Because I'm too lazy to saute the garlic to ease its aroma, and because I love mellowing onions and shallots by rubbing them with salt and letting them sit, that's what I did with the young garlic. I pulled away the tough outer layers (save them for infusing the stock you're making with that pastured chicken -- See? I can't help myself.) and thinly sliced the entire bulb and even a few inches of the stem. After rubbing them with kosher salt, I let them sit for a few minutes while I cooked the asparagus.

Young garlic, prepped

Two months ago, I would have insisted that you must never blanch asparagus -- that it must be sauteed in oil or butter so that you intensify its flavor. But then a scarring incident with gritty local spears changed my tune. Blanch your asparagus (unless you know it's not gritty, in which case, saute it in oil for 2 minutes and proceed with the rest of the recipe as is) to release all the grit. Then it's just a bunch of slicing and sprinkling and grating your way to seasonal self-satisfaction.

Salting the garlic Grating the horseradish

Asparagus with Young Garlic and Horseradish

Serves 4

  • Salt
  • 1 head young garlic (with a few inches of stem), or 2 garlic scapes
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and washed
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated horseradish root
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Half a lemon

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by James Ransom

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A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).

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Written by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.


mcs3000 May 29, 2012
Must try soon.
witloof May 28, 2012
I buy asparagus at the Union Square Greenmarket, and yes, it's always hatefully full of grit. Someone told me to hold it head down and agitate it in a bowl full of cold water, which I did, for a long time, then let it soak for a while... still gritty. Yurgh. But it does taste better than supermarket supermarket asparagus! I just won't serve it to company.
Amanda H. May 28, 2012
Same experience -- the grit apparently hides under those leaves on the spear, but if you blanch them, those leaves loosen and the grit falls away.
Kitchen B. May 28, 2012
:-). We are all in the same boat Amanda - food jerks, not.....passionate food lovers - definitely! I love salting my alliums - works a treat for salads, sometime I do a quick lime pickle but now I'm rambling. Because I won't get to try this anytime soon - no asparagus spears to be found South of the Sahara, sigh