Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Asparagus Comes to Raoul’s and Then Home

Asparagus Comes to Raoul’s and Then Home

A few days ago, I was at Raoul’s, one of my long-time favorite restaurants. This time, what perked my interest on the menu, though marked with the stand-by steak au poivre and house paté, was the asparagus vinaigrette with quinoa. Of course I ordered it as my starter and what quickly arrived in front of me was a salad of hearty grain covering a lovely array of skinny green and white asparagus.  The whole dish was very simple—the asparagus were minimally blanched, as was the quinoa, one of the oldest and most rustic grains—but the execution perfect.  The dish was covered in Raoul’s special dressing, a blend of shallots, egg yolk, oil, and a tangy dash of mustard.

I devoured the dish with such zeal that I felt compelled to replicate it the following day. Though asparagus are not yet widely available at the greenmarket, Whole Foods Market—including the lovely 71,000 sq foot store on the Bowery—has a gorgeous array of the slender, green variety, hailing from California on sale for $2.99 a pound.  In the same family as leeks, onions, and garlic, asparagus is a source for vitamin C and for remembering that spring is coming.  The skinny stalks have a thin skin and are less fibrous, making them quicker to blanch.
To make your own version of Raoul’s salad, first make my version of their vinaigrette:

2 egg yolks
4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup sherry vinegar
2 cup olive oil
4 Tbsp shallots, minced
Salt + Pepper

• Mince the shallots very finely and set aside.
• Place the egg yolk in a blender with the mustard and sherry vinegar.
• Slowly whisk in the oil until the mixture becomes thick.
• Mix in the shallots and S+P to taste.

Thereafter, toast 1/2 cup of quinoa in a small pan on the stove.  Add 1 cup of water to the 1/2 cup of quinoa and simmer for fifteen minutes, or until tender.  Drain the quinoa and set aside. 

Peel the stalks of a bundle of asparagus and blanch them by dropping them into boiling water for 2 minutes and then plunging them under an ice bath to stop the cooking.

Drain and lay the asparagus on a plate. Top with a mound of quinoa, and spoon a fair amount of the vinaigrette atop the grains. It’s certainly a condensed version of Raoul’s masterful asparagus app, but for the home cook it will certainly be a crowd pleaser.

– Jill Donenfeld

"When not scooping the latest for NYSD, Jill Donenfeld heads up The Dish's Dishes, a personal chef and catering company founded for those who crave delicious food without the hassle of making reservations, ordering in, or turning on the oven. For more information on how to get your first DISH, check out www.TheDishsDishes.com