Farmer’s Market Finds Part II: Purple Asparagus
May 22, 2008
The “Farmer’s Market Finds” series continues today. So long spring onions, hello purple asparagus! As if asparagus weren’t already interesting enough—with its nubbly stalks and pinched tips and its penchant for shooting ramrod-straight out the soil in all corners of a backyard garden, with no rhyme or reason—it also comes in purple. Who knew? Well, apparently some kind Wisconsin farmer, who smiled knowingly at me when I requested a bundle of purple asparagus, knew. I prefer to think she was thinking to herself: “This girl knows pretty produce when she sees it.” More likely, though, she was smirking: “This girl is a sucker. Ha! She’ll pay an extra buck a pound just for a hue that suits her eye.” Whatever, it’s my purple asparagus party and I’m not letting anyone ruin it.
I had a thick stack of asparagus recipes all lined up for the spring. We’ve eaten our way almost entirely through them over the past few weeks, but I’d never gotten around to this one: a Warm Leek, Asparagus and Potato Salad. I imagined it would be delicious and all, but I had a hard time getting excited about a plate of greens and whites, colors slightly muted by a slick of dijon vinaigrette. But a salad of pale greens and whites started to sound not only delicious but also beautiful when I realized I could stud it with morsels of purple asparagus.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
I’m so glad that this purple asparagus allowed me to rescue the recipe from my dwindling stack, because it was really good: a classic example of a pared down list of ingredients, prepared simply and combined into a creation that is much more delicious than its individual components. I mean, who can get all that excited about boiled potatoes or blanched asparagus and leeks? All on a bed of romaine? You’ll just have to trust me though. When the warm ingredients hit the frothy vinaigrette, some kind of magic happens. Topped with a few cracks of black pepper and a handful of slivered chives, this was one of the most elegant and satisfying Salad Mondays we’d had in a while.
Warm Leek, Asparagus and Potato Salad
Adapted from Food & Wine
Yield: 2 Entree-Sized Salads
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground pepper
3/4 pound small fingerling potatoes
1 pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch lengths
2 medium leeks, white and tender green parts only, split lengthwise then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
2 to 3 cups thinly sliced romaine
1/4 cup snipped chives
In a large bowl, whisk the mustard with the vinegar. Whisk in the oil in a thin stream and season with salt and pepper.
Bring 2 medium saucepans of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes to one and cook for 20 minutes. Simultaneously, cook the asparagus and leeks in the other saucepan for 5 minutes. Drain and pat dry; add to the vinaigrette. Drain the potatoes and slice 1/2 inch thick; add to the bowl. Gently toss the salad. Split the romaine between two plates. Split the warm potato mixture between the two beds of romaine. Top with the chives, fresh cracked pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve warm.