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
rhubarb stalks, sliced thinly (about 1/3 inch)
apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 pounds
very thick white asparagus
1 1/2 cups
chicken stock, approximately
walnut oil, to taste
butter or Bibb lettuce, washed and torn into bite size pieces
goat cheese, crumbled
some of the pickled rhubarb (as much as you can handle)
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.
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.
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.
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!
Once the asparagus has cooled completely cover it and place it in the refrigerator until well chilled.
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.
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.
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!