White asparagus is extremely labor intensive to grow and harvest. Its flavor is more woodsy than that of green asparagus, which has a slightly grassy taste. Poaching the white asparagus in milk helps maintain its color and adds an element of silkiness to the vegetable. Notes of orange, sesame, and vinegar bring the salad together and showcase this luxe ingredient in a deliciously elegant way.
- Yield: 4 to 6 Servings
- 1 bunch white asparagus (about 18 spears), trimmed, cut into 2-inch lengths
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup whole evaporated milk
- 2 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 cups fresh mandarin orange segments (from 2 or 3 oranges)
- 1 cup shaved fennel (from about 1 small bulb)
- ¼ cup fresh tarragon or Italian parsley leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- ½ tablespoon whole evaporated milk
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
- ⅓ cup grapeseed oil
To make the Salad
- In a medium saucepan, add the asparagus. Pour over the whole milk and evaporated milk so they just cover the asparagus. Add the thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a bare simmer and gently poach the asparagus until fork tender, 10 to 12 minutes, depending on their thickness. Drain, pat dry, and chill until cold, at least 1 hour. To make the Dressing
- In a serving bowl, whisk together the evaporated milk, mustard, and vinegar. Whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream to make a smooth dressing.
- Add the chilled asparagus, oranges, fennel, and tarragon. Discard the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, toss once more, and serve.