I do my best to eat produce grown locally and preferably sourced from my own organic garden. However, there are several temperate zone fruits and vegetables that refuse to grow in my semi-tropical part of Florida (I’ve tried) and are simply too tempting to live without. Who can resist the glorious spring treat of asparagus? Not I.
This recipe for roasted asparagus with Caesar dressing was inspired by the following train of thought: Roasted asparagus with classic Hollandaise sauce is superb. Caesar salad is one of the great dishes known to mankind. The preparation of Caesar salad dressing — an aioli-like combination of olive oil, lemon juice, egg yolks, garlic, mustard powder, parmigiano-reggiano cheese, and anchovies — is similar to that of Hollandaise sauce but with a bolder and more complex flavor. Wouldn’t roasted asparagus be even more delicious with Caesar dressing than with Hollandaise sauce? Fault my logic if you will, but I loved the results of this recipe and hope you do so also.
1 1/2 pounds fresh asparagus spears, rinsed and tough stems ends trimmed
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons light-tasting vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced or pressed
1/4 teaspoon ground mustard seed
2 anchovy fillets, mashed
2 raw egg yolks, at room temperature
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grated
Salt, if needed, and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a large baking sheet by spraying it very lightly with oil.
- Place the prepared asparagus spears in a single layer on the baking sheet, cover with foil and bake for ten minutes. Remove the foil and bake for an additional five to ten minutes or until the asparagus is just tender. Remove from the oven, cover, and set aside.
- Mix the oils and briefly heat on the stovetop or in the microwave oven until very warm to the touch.
- Prepare the Caesar dressing. You may use a whisk, small food processor, or electric mixer to make the dressing; the technique remains the same, as follows: Place egg yolks, ground mustard, garlic, and 2 mashed anchovies in a mixing bowl (or the container of a food processor, as the case may be) and whip until they are well blended and light. While continuing to whip the egg yolk mixture, gradually (important!) add the heated oil in a very thin, thread-like drizzle (important!) until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mayonnaise and all oil has been incorporated. Continuing to whip the mixture, add the lemon juice and vinegar. Stir in the parmigiano-reggiano cheese and a generous grinding or two of black pepper. Taste the dressing and, if needed, add more mashed anchovies and seasoning to suit your taste.
- Place the asparagus spears on a serving platter or individual salad plates and drizzle with the Caesar dressing. Serves 4-6 as a side dish or appetizer.
· Some people have concerns about the safety of eating raw egg yolks, which are included in Caesar dressing. If you share such concerns, or are interested in learning more about them, you may wish to read http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents/Mayonnaise.html before proceeding with the recipe.
· Like Hollandaise sauce, Caesar dressing has the reputation, undeserved I think, of being fussy to make. If you don’t feel up to it, you can prepare a rough approximation of this dressing by whisking together the following ingredients: 1/3 cup prepared mayonnaise; 2 tablespoons olive oil; 1 garlic clove, peeled and finely minced; 1/4 teaspoon mustard powder; 2 anchovy fillets, mashed; 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice; 1/2 teaspoon white wine vinegar; 3 tablespoons parmigiano-reggiano cheese, finely grated; and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.