Pickle & Preserve

White Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese and Pickled Rhubarb

April  3, 2010
1 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

Are you ready for sour? The kind of sour that makes your saliva glands ache a little and actually squirt just thinking about biting into something? Well that’s the kind of sour I have for you today. I am mostly teasing here. Because these little sour jewels won't hurt you. They are just one ingredient in a luscious salad full of opposing flavors and textures. Which is just the sort of salad I love. Sure there are plenty of sour little flavor bombs sprinkled about this salad. But there is also tender, crisp, rich and nutty white asparagus, the fat kind that is around all too briefly each spring. And as if that were not enough to hold your interest... there is soft, green bibb lettuce and creamy bits of goat cheese. I am dressing this salad with just the barest hint of walnut oil. There is no vinaigrette I can think of that could ever hold its head up around these flavors. No, this salad needs the full fat flavor of the nutty walnut oil all by itself. Black pepper brings the final zing that makes this asparagus salad sing! - SippitySup —Sippity Sup (Greg Henry)

Test Kitchen Notes

This salad is truly inspired. The juxtaposition of the sour pickled rhubarb against the creaminess of the goat cheese and bay leaf-infused white asparagus all drizzled with an earthy hit of walnut oil was an amazingly original, refreshing pack of flavors and textures. The bay leaf infusion gives it an interesting subtle aspect -- brings out the “woodiness” of the asparagus. Great summer salad! A couple of notes: the recipe indicated that peeling the asparagus was optional. I would definitely recommend peeling. The unpeeled spears were woody and chewy, so I ended up peeling them after they were cooked (which actually was a fairly painless way of peeling as I had thin spears). Also, cooking time for (thin) spears was about 12 minutes. - coffeefoodwritergirl —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • Pickled Rhubarb
  • 4 rhubarb stalks, sliced thinly (about 1/3 inch)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Asparagus Salad
  • 1 1/2 pounds very thick white asparagus
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, approximately
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 bay leaf
  • walnut oil, to taste
  • 4 cups butter or Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
  • 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
  • some of the pickled rhubarb (as much as you can handle)
  • black pepper, to taste
  1. Pickled Rhubarb
  2. Bring the sugar, vinegar, and salt to a boil. As soon as all of the sugar is dissolved, pour over the sliced rhubarb. Let stand for at least 3 hours. Then put them in the refrigerator until well chilled. These will keep covered a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. They are a bit addicting so make plenty.
  1. Asparagus Salad
  2. You may peel or not peel the asparagus. I leave that for you to decide. Once you have made up your mind, place the asparagus into a heavy saucepan. Choose a pan large enough to hold all the spears in a single layer. Otherwise work in batches.
  3. Add enough stock to come about halfway up sides of the spears. Add 2 tablespoons butter, and the bay leaf, and cook uncovered over medium heat about 8 minutes. Roll the spears around until spears are very tender and glazed.
  4. Remove the spears from the braising liquid and set aside on a plate. One of the joys of white asparagus is that it does not quickly discolor from cooking so there is no need to plunge into ice water as with green asparagus. But you can if you want to. If you have an audience in the kitchen (and well, who doesn’t??) then please plunge away as dramatically as you can!
  5. Once the asparagus has cooled completely cover it and place it in the refrigerator until well chilled.
  6. When you are ready to plate this, toss a mild-tasting lettuce such as butter or Bibb with just enough walnut oil to make them glisten. Use the oil sparingly. It does not need to be mixed with vinegar or lemon juice. This salad has plenty of zip on it’s own! Mound the dressed lettuce in the center of each salad plate.
  7. Stack a pile of 4 or 5 spears of white asparagus around or on top of the lettuce. Sprinkle a generous amount of crumbled goat cheese on top followed by plenty of the pickled rhubarb.
  8. Drizzle with some more of the walnut oil, just a few drops here and there for sparkle. Then add a good grind of black pepper over everything. Pucker up and enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • CarlaCooks
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
  • lapadia
  • Lizthechef
  • Brenna

7 Reviews

CarlaCooks May 24, 2013
I made this tonight and it's bloody brilliant! I substituted green asparagus for the white asparagus, since that's what I received in my CSA box this week, and I blanched is in salted water. Other than that, I stuck to the recipe. The pickled rhubarb is a stroke of genius, and you are spot on about not needing any vinegar in the final salad. Thanks for such a great recipe; it's a definite keeper!
CarlaCooks May 24, 2013
Oh shoot, I lied. I used half mizuna salad and half butter lettuce. But I promise, everything else was by the book!
BoulderGalinTokyo July 16, 2012
Made this today--explosion of flavors. The rhubarb pickles were really addicting, can see many future uses. I was a little worried about 'just walnut oil' as a dressing and nothing else but it really works well.
lapadia June 15, 2010
Wow, we have a bay tree, plenty of lettuce, rhubarb and asparagus growing, a great way to use some up! All I need is some goat cheese. Fresh picked = no woody, cheesy asparagus = no peeling....yeah!
Lizthechef April 18, 2010
Hi, Late coming in this week due to computer crashing. I just signed up to road test your recipe. Keep your fingers crossed that Whole Foods has white asparagus tomorrow and we will be in business - looks fun.
Brenna April 5, 2010
Yes, yes, yes. I beg--pleaded for pickled rhubarb to be on our Final Project menu, and while it wasn't, I still got to test the recipe and scold everyone for thinking it wasn't a cool ingredient. Just look at them! Jewels, precisely. I love the contrast of color and the idea of combining the richness of the asparagus with the tart rhubarb. Lovely.
student E. April 5, 2010
wow, this is so intriguing -- what great sounding juxtapositions. yum!