White Asparagus with Hollandaise. Learn how to prepare, cook, and enjoy this seasonal classic side dish with an easy blender hollandaise sauce.
The arrival of Spring brings some of the best produce of the year. I love rhubarb, chives, and especially asparagus! We eat Easy Oven Roasted Asparagus for dinner on repeat and I always make a few batches of Pickled Asparagus during this season.
White Asparagus with Hollandaise
White Asparagus is a seasonal vegetable that is only available during a short time in the Spring. When prepared properly it’s an unforgettable, sweet tender treat.
This white asparagus is simply steamed, then coated in a luxurious hollandaise that is rich with just the right amount of acidity. Herbal notes from the chopped fresh garden chives and tarragon are the perfect way to finish this dish.
White asparagus is exactly like green asparagus without the chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is several plant pigments that aids in light absorption during photosynthesis. They are responsible for making plants green (and sometimes red).
So, why doesn’t it contain chlorophyll? There is no colour or chlorophyll present because white asparagus is grown in a completely dark environment. This vegetable vampire literally never sees the light of day.
During the growing process, called blanching or etiolation, the asparagus is covered in a thick layer of mulch and dark plastic. This prevents the plants cells from developing chlorophyll and in turn, prevents photosynthesis.
However, the asparagus still continues to grow as it reaches to find light. The result is a more delicate, sweeter vegetable.
White asparagus is quite pricey due to the labour intensive farming technique and often difficult to source because the growing season is so short. If you find this Spring delicacy in a grocery store or farmers market, count yourself lucky and bring some home.
How to Prepare White Asparagus
White asparagus stalks are usually much thicker than their green counterpart. Additionally, their outer skin can be quite tough and fibrous so it is really important to peel this vegetable before cooking.
To peel asparagus, firmly but gently hold the tip and lay the spear flat on a cutting board. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the skin away beginning at the base of the tip all the way along the length of the stalk.
Lastly, remove the bottom inch or two from each stalk. If there are any ‘stringy’ bits remaining, it means you missed removing some of the tough skin. Go ahead and remove it now.
There are several ways to prepare white asparagus, however the classic method is simmering it in an emulsion of butter, lemon juice and salt. You can bet the sweet spears are irresistible when cooked this way. My mouth is watering right now!
A healthier and much simpler way to cook it is to steam it as I have done in this recipe. Place the prepared asparagus in a steamer basket, cover, and steam over boiling water for 8-15 minutes. Once a knife slides into the stalk easily, it it cooked.
Roasting the asparagus in a 400 F oven until they are slightly caramelized really brings out the sweet flavour. If the stalks are quite thick, split them lengthwise before roasting.
Finally, grilling them over charcoal or on a gas barbecue is a great way to impart a smoky flavour to this delicate vegetable.
How to Serve White Asparagus
In short, you can prepare or serve white asparagus the same way you would the more common green variety.
Simply serve it roasted with garlic, salt and pepper, grilled alongside a juicy steak, or steamed asparagus covered in a light vinaigrette, topped with a golden toasted pangrattato, or rich hollandaise.
Steamed white asparagus with hollandaise makes a delicious side dish for dinner al fresco or it can be served with ham or prosciutto for brunch as part of an Eggs Benedict.
Let’s Talk Easy Hollandaise
Easy Hollandaise? You may be thinking this may be a bit of an oxymoron because it’s common knowledge that it takes a fair bit of practice to perfect this classic buttery sauce.
Hollandaise is a thick yellow creamy sauce made from warmed egg yolks flavoured with lemon juice and a whole lot of butter. The gradual addition of butter allows it to be suspended within the egg yolks, giving the sauce its characteristic texture.
Believe me when I say that while I love Hollandaise, I’m mostly content to leave it to the experts at our local brunch hangout. Until now.
Dear readers I may be a day late and a dollar short but I have discovered Blender Hollandaise and there is no turning back.
Does it make a rich buttery sauce? Yep. Does it take less than 5 minutes with minimal effort? You bet. Even Julia Child recommended this fail proof method!
This very quick method for making Hollandaise cannot fail when you add your butter in a small stream of droplets….
…as the technique is well within the capabilities of an 8 year old child, it has much to recommend it.Julia Child
How to Make Blender Hollandaise
This blender hollandaise is so easy even your eight year old can make it. To begin, add the yolks to the blender jar and pour in the warm water and lemon juice.
Blend the mixture until it becomes frothy (about 30 seconds) and keep the motor running. Slowly pour the hot butter in a steady but thin stream. Once the butter has become entirely suspended, season it with sea salt.
Pour the hollandaise sauce over the steamed asparagus and scatter fresh herbs over the top. Or, get right in there and eat it with your hands, dipping each spear into the hollandaise as you go.
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