This article and recipe for Spring Asparagus with a Champagne Citrus Vinaigrette first appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Edible DC Magazine. Photography by Jennifer Chase. Words and recipe by Anina Belle Giannini.
Le Chef, as I lovingly refer to my husband, and I used to live in his native South of France. We would stroll from our apartment above the Vieux Port in Nice to the open air market on the Cours Saleya every weekend with Heidi, our dog. Part function, part pleasure, we made a leisurely outing out of our weekly food shop.
Living a French Riviera-inspired life in the USA
When professional opportunities brought us to Washington, DC area we were committed to maintaining that quality of life that we loved so much in Nice. The great variety of Farmer’s Markets in the area have made it surprisingly easy to maintain a French Riviera-inspired lifestyle , even with demanding jobs, a toddler, (a new born) and a very full life.
Our weekend routine often involves a stop at one of our favorite Farmer’s Markets followed by an afternoon of cooking, eating and often, entertaining.
Seasonal Spring Produce
Spring in the DMV is gets exciting with the reappearance of more varieties of fresh produce. Perhaps even more so than in southern France where the seasons are not as pronounced. Asparagus! Radishes! Beets! I pounce on them, gathering it all into my market bag and start planning the meals we will make as we head home. Eating a varied diet of fresh local foods is a strong value in our family and the inspiration, for my blog, Le Chef's Wife, and the children’s book series that we are working on, Le Chef’s Baby.
While we have always enjoyed eating fresh vegetables, we have made a conscious choice to add more plant based dishes to our weeknight meals. One of our favorite foods to serve for a light lunch or brunch in the springtime is asparagus. Lightly steamed and served with a Champagne citrus vinaigrette, if feels special enough to serve for company yet is easy enough to whip up when you want to keep things simple. Bon Appétit!
Have you tried this Spring Asparagus Recipe with a Champagne Citrus Vinaigrette? If so, tell me all about it! I would love to hear from you.
Le Chef's WifePrint
Simple and flavorful. The bright flavors of citrus and the pop of champagne pair beautifully with fresh spring Asparagus. Vegan Recipe.
For the Asparagus:
1 bunch of Asparagus
1 bulb of Fennel
1 Spring Onion
1 bay leaf
For the Vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons of olive oil (the best you have)
2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (we love Acetaia di Terga)
1 tablespoons of Savora mustard (One of Le Chef's favorites from France - it is available in specialty food stores, the turmeric really adds brightness to the dish)
Pinch of coarse sea salt
Pinch of ground pepper
finch of finely sliced spring onion
2 tablespoons of Champagne (I don't think we need to tell you what to do with the rest of the bottle!)
1 tablespoon Savora mustard ( one of Le Chef’s favorites from France - it is available in specialty food stores - the tumeric really adds brightness to the dish)
Mise en Place
For the Asparagus:
( Le Chef’s tip - I have learned to prep all of the ingredients before I actually start cooking - it saves time and keeps me from overcooking an item as you are prepping the next ingredient - or wrangling a toddler…)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Set a pot of salted water to boil (enough to completely cover the asparagus). I like to use a deep sauteuse pan.
Slice the almonds in thin slivers, leaving 3 almonds whole for later. Slice the heart of the fennel bulb into thin slivers. Finely chop the spring onion. Set aside.
Slice the lemon in half and put the halves in the oven on a cookie sheet or grill pan drizzled with olive oil, sliced edge down for 15 minutes.
Cut the white ends off of the asparagus (it looks neater if all the asparagus are the same length). Set the asparagus in the boiling salted water with a bay leaf for no longer than 5 minutes (less if you like your asparagus really crunchy).
For the Vinaigrette:
Whisk ingredients together until emulsified; it should only take a few turns of the whisk.
Finishing the dish
Place the asparagus on a serving dish, garnished with the 2 roasted lemons.
Pour the Champagne Citrus Vinaigrette over the asparagus spears.
Top with a few slivers of the shaved fennel, the remaining spring onion and sliced almonds.
Using a zester, zest an orange directly over the dish ( a light dusting will do) as well as the remaining almonds.
Serve immediately. With a Glass of Champagne of course!
Zeste 2 lemons with a microplane
If Asparagus are in season, look for the skinniest spears available, they have more flavour.
If you don't have Savora mustard, Dijon mustard is a nice alternative.
This recipe is vegan but if you love parmesan cheese, by all means feel free to top liberally with parmesan!
I love my microplane zester. It is the perfect tool for this recipe - it zests the orange and lemons perfectly as well as the almonds.
La Mise en Place ( Le Chef’s tip - I have learned to prep all of the ingredients before I actually start cooking - it saves time and keeps me from overcooking an item as you are prepping the next ingredient - or wrangling a toddler…)
Keywords: asparagus, spring recipe, vegan, vegan recipe