Gardeners, cooks and farmers share a unique awareness of the changing of the seasons. Crocus and radishes give way to irises and asparagus. Early summers pinks, blues, English peas and sweet cherries change to late summer yellows and oranges, summer squash, sweet corn and tomatoes.
The seasons are changing right now. Farmers at the Market admonish us to enjoy the spring’s last rhubarb and asparagus, while filling the gap with the year’s first tomatoes and squash, helped along with early season cover. They taste richly of the soil they’re grown in, but not yet sweet from the summer sun.
Seasons of eating start with hunger, built over months of waiting. That first spear of asparagus or first ripe tomato is wonderful eaten raw and fresh. Over a six to eight week season your recipes progress from old favorites to new experiments. Finally, when you think you can’t eat another zucchini or ear of corn, they are gone until next year.
Here, then is a celebration of the passing of asparagus. It’s been a wonderful spring for it, although May’s heat led many farmers to end their harvest earlier than usual. Enjoy this salad, simple and fresh, elegant enough for fine dining, quick enough for a Tuesday supper. Until next year.
Asparagus Mimosa Salad
The name of this salad refers to the similarity in appearance between the grated egg and the foamy yellow/white flowers of the Mimosa tree.
- 2 eggs, hard boiled
- 1 pound asparagus
- 2-3 radishes, cut in matchsticks
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 cup Champagne Mimosa vinegar*
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cup olive oil – the good stuff!
- Begin vinaigrette: whisk together shallot, vinegar, mustard, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Peel and finely grate the hard-boiled eggs. Set aside. You won’t be able to get the entire egg grated. Pop the larger, leftover pieces in your mouth.
- For a special presentation, line up your asparagus spears and cut them to fit the plates you will be serving this salad on.
- Blanch asparagus in a large boiling pot of salted water for approximately 3 minutes, until crisp tender. Shock in an ice bath.
- Complete vinaigrette by whisking in olive oil in a thin stream. Taste vinaigrette with an asparagus stalk and season to taste with additional salt pepper, oil or vinegar.
- Place asparagus stalks on individual plates, drizzle with vinaigrette, top with radish and egg.
*Thomas Keller takes the tender ends of the asparagus, left over when you trim the spears to the size of your salad plates, and blanches them for about five minutes. Shock them in an ice bath, then puree them in a blender with a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid, salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. That’s the green sauce you see on the bottom in the photograph.