This is a recipe from one of my first favourite chefs, Alex Guarnaschelli. I used to love watching her on Chopped. She was tough, but always on point.
Her cookbook, Old School Comfort Food, was one of the first I bought and where I learned a lot of technique and enjoyed the stories she shared about her childhood & food.
Sesame Asparagus Salad
- 1 tbsp honey good quality honey works best.
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar white vinegar works as a substitute.
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 2 tbsp soy sauce use reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari for a lighter option.
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- Pinch of salt
- 1 lb thin asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
- Wash and prepare asparagus by removing about 1-inch off the bottom, to remove the tough part. Cut into 2-inch pieces.
- Bring a pot of water to a boil.
Make the dressing
- Heat the honey in a small pan until it turns liquid and a golden brown colour.
- Remove from the heat and carefully add the vinegar. Stir to combine and return to the heat. Simmer to reduce for about one minute.
- In a separate bowl, mix together sesame oil, soy sauce, red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt. Add the honey mixture and stir to combine.
Cook the asparagus (blanch)
- We're going to blanch the asparagus. This is a great technique that quick cooks your vegetables and then halts the process using an ice cold bowl of water. It's a delicious way to prepare asparagus, whether you're eating them plain or with a dressing!
- Fill a large bowl halfway with water and ice cubes.
- Add salt to boiling water until it very salty
- Add the asparagus and cook until bright green, but still crunchy. About 1 minute for thin spears, and 1 1/2 to 2 minutes for thicker ones.
- Using a spoon, remove the asparagus from boiling water and add them to the ice bath. Move them around to accelerate the cooling process. Leave for a few minutes to fully cool.
- Taste them to make sure crunchy and cool. Drain from the water. Pat them dry.
Make the salad
- Toss the asparagus sesame seeds and dressing together. Refrigerate for an hour before serving for best result.