asparagus with tarragon vinaigrette
“Can be made up to one day in advance.” These are magic words to a cook when he or she has company coming. I know when I entertain, I like to hook myself up the day before by prepping what I can. If I’m really organized, I like to plan the menu around dishes that won’t keep me in the kitchen instead of enjoying my guests. For the most part, I can handle one or two hands-on recipes. But the rest have to be pretty much ready to go before people arrive. This Easter we have the whole crew coming over for an egg hunt and Brunch. That’s on top of my duties as the Easter Bunny. So that means I can handle exactly zero hands-on dishes on Easter morning.
For the main course I have ordered a maple sugar glazed ham from Harrington’s of Vermont. Not only does it have sweet mapley flavor, but it is double cob smoked right here in my little (er) hamlet. They do a booming mail order business if you’re interested. I highly recommend it.
I wanted to have a springy selection of side dishes that would compliment the ham and be made the day before. So I am going to make this asparagus with tarragon champagne vinaigrette. It is served chilled and it can be made the day before. Just cook and cool the asparagus, cover it and store it in the fridge over night. Note that the dressing can be made the day before too, but it needs to be held separately or it turns the asparagus a not-so-lovely shade of army green. Just drizzle it on before serving, sprinkle on a generous amount of black pepper and you’re good to go.
Active Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Makes: 8 servings
To make ahead: Prepare through step 2 up to 1 day ahead. Store cooked and cooled asparagus and dressing separately, covered in the refrigerator.
- Salt for boiling water plus ¾ teaspoon, divided
- 3 bunches asparagus, woody ends trimmed, peeled if desired
- 1 shallot, peeled and roughly chopped
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Make an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and cold water. Add asparagus to the boiling water and cook until crisp tender and bright green, 3 to 4 minutes. Drain the asparagus and transfer to the ice bath to cool.
- Meanwhile, combine shallot, olive oil, vinegar, honey, tarragon, Dijon and the remaining ¾ teaspoon salt in a blender. Puree until smooth.
- Arrange asparagus on a platter. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and grind tons of pepper on top.