I have a cookbook recommendation for you: Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, by Maureen Abood, who runs a gorgeous food blog I’ve been following for a while. As I browsed through my Kindle version, I was surprised by the number of recipes I bookmarked, a feature I love in the Kindle reader, actually. Makes it so easy to go back to favorites. So I did that A LOT. I also love when a cookbook mixes just the right amount of prose. Don’t make each recipe a reason to pour your soul out and tell me all about your childhood and that of your close friends, but give me enough to dream about, to make me understand why that recipe is special for you, special enough that you chose to include in your cookbook. Maureen does just that. The first recipe I made from her cookbook is simple yet very elegant. Poached white asparagus with pistachios. She used pistachio oil to drizzle the dish, I decided to go with my recent acquisition, a blood orange-infused olive oil. I am quite fond of its color, a soft reddish tone, and I think the taste matched the white asparagus very well.
POACHED WHITE ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON AND PISTACHIO OIL
(from the cookbook Rose Water and Orange Blossoms)
reprinted with permission from Maureen Abood
Makes 4 servings
1 pound / 450 g white asparagus
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons shelled roasted, salted pistachios
4 teaspoons pistachio oil (I used blood orange infused olive oil)
Fine sea salt, to finish
Trim the asparagus by snapping the ends off at their natural break. Peel them from just beneath the tip to the end with a vegetable peeler. Cover the asparagus with water in a large sauté pan. Squeeze the lemon into the pan and add the teaspoon of salt.
Cover the pan and bring the water to a boil, and then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until a spear can be easily cut with a knife and fork. Drain and set the asparagus aside to cool. Remove the thin papery skin on each pistachio to reveal the bright green nut underneath by rubbing the skin off of each nut between your fingers and thumb. Coarsely chop the pistachios.
Divide the asparagus among four individual salad plates, or pile them, all facing the same direction, on a platter. Sprinkle the pistachios across the center of the asparagus crosswise, forming a line. Drizzle everything with pistachio oil, and finish with the sea salt.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: White asparagus will always make me think of a trip to Germany many years ago. We were living in Paris at the time, and went for a little scientific mission to a couple of cities in Germany. We arrived at the peak of asparagus season and one restaurant in particular had pretty much all dishes centered on them. I still remember a gratin of white asparagus and ham that blew my mind, it was superb! Until I got Maureen’s book, I confess to butchering my share of white asparagus when trying to cook them at home. It never occurred to me that these pale white creatures need to be treated differently from their siblings, the ones allowed to grow under full sun. Maureen gives two simple tips for success: peel them all the way from the bottom to the region right below the tips. And cook them gently but for a longer time. I was amazed at the difference these two little modifications brought to my culinary life.
Now, back to Maureen’s book. So many dishes I want to cook from it, it’s not even funny… Doesn’t “Flower Water Syrup” make you go in a dreamy daze? Many of her recipes are simple but join unexpected flavors, leaving you with that feeling of “why didn’t I think of that?” For instance, Warm Dates with Almonds and Lime Zest… I just know it will be an amazing recipe. Or… Tahini Avocado? Za’atar Roasted Tomatoes? It all sounds perfect. And to me, nothing is better than a great kibbeh, I love it. She shares her classic version of Baked Kibbeh, and one particular recipe I had a few times in Brazil and find spectacular: Yoghurt-Poached Kibbeh. You may think it is strange, but trust me, it is the best kind. I guess I was lucky to grow up in São Paulo where we have many great Lebanese restaurants, some pretty close to the university where I studied. Still on the kibbeh front, Maureen offers several variations that were unknown to me: Fried Kibbeh with Mint Butter, Vegan Tomato Kibbeh, and Potato & Spinach Kibbeh. But I will tell you what will be my next recipe for sure: Whipped Hummus with Minced Lamb. One little tip she gives in that recipe is worth my weight in chickpeas. But I share no more. You will have to invite her book to join your collection, and that will be a very wise move. Go for it with a simple click here.
Maureen, thank you for allowing me to publish your recipe, and best of luck with your cookbook!
ONE YEAR AGO: Dan Lepard’s Saffron Bloomer
TWO YEARS AGO: Fesenjan & The New Persian Kitchen
THREE YEARS AGO: Quinoa Salad with Roasted Beets
FOUR YEARS AGO: Pasta Puttanesca
FIVE YEARS AGO: Miche Point-a-Calliere
21 thoughts on “POACHED WHITE ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON AND PISTACHIOS”
If you have fond memories of your meal in Germany, you may want to try a common way of preparing them there. Rather than poach in plain water, make a short stock of the white asparagus trimmings, salt, and sugar, and poach in that. I’ve found it makes a difference, and the remaining poaching liquor makes an excellent liquid for risotto or pilaf.
(An old kitchen canard has it that you should also add a heel of crusty bread to the pot during poaching. And if you want to go all out, there are dedicated asparagus poaching pots with mesh inserts. Who knew?)
Look who is back!!!! What a surprise to see you here… loved your tips about white asparagus, shall try it, including the risotto move… awesome!
I know those poaching pots – out of my price range, I’m afraid… 😉
Aw, I never really left. It’s just that because of a court order I’ve not been allowed to interact with women for some time. Stupid paternity suits! But I do follow this here little blog of yours faithfully.
(BTW, I should have mentioned: that “short stock” needs to simmer for at least an hour before adding the prepped stalks, I’ve found. This is not a court bouillon. And taste it towards the end – it should taste pleasantly lightly sweet, not salty or bitter. Adjust sugar accordingly.)
What a wonderful post! Thanks so much for your generous words! I’m glad to hear you love and enjoy yogurt-poached kibbeh as much as I do…an unknown delicacy!
Nice to have you stop by, Maureen! You know, I used to go to a particular restaurant at lunch time, it was a Lebanese buffet type of deal at that time of the day. The owners were a husband and wife team, adorable couple. I always got the same stuff – and here I will use the Portuguese spelling, so forgive me: closed esfihas filled with ground beef, open esfihas with a sharp cheese and spinach topping, kibbeh (the one with a torpedo shape, the shell with the meat dough and ground beef inside). One day the woman insisted I should try the yogurt poached kibbeh, she said she was sure I would love it – the looks are not that appealing, as you know… but I trusted her. MY GOSH. Never looked back. Every single time I went there, that would be my main component of the meal.
This sounds delicious. I have a silly question though – does white asparagus taste different? I’ve never had it, though we’ve had the green variety almost weekly. The pistachios would be a winner with the boys in this house for sure!
Hi, Kristy! Yes, the taste is quite different, and the texture too – to me, it has almost a celery-like flavor. I like it a lot, but don’t expect it to taste like regular asparagus, or you could be disappointed… 😉
I’ll have to give it a shot – especially with the kids. They tolerate the green asparagus, but it’s certainly not their favorite. Perhaps this one will be more to their liking. 🙂
Great post – I love Maureen’s blog and have been coveting her book 😀 great to read your review xx
I really love her book, in fact from getting it, cooking the first recipe and deciding to do a little review, only a couple of weeks passed by. Coming from me, that is lightning speed, my friend… lightning speed
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Aha, I see, then it must be good!!
I’ve never tried white asparagus. It seems so much more elegant than the green variety. It’s certainly a pretty presentation on the red plate.
Yes, it is asparagus dressed for an evening out.. 😉
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I learned to eat and love white asparagus during our yearly trips to the famed Hannover Trade Show: on at the same time as the asparagus season:) ! What a simple but fantastic recipe: now to find the white of the species in rural Australia – such a very simple moreish recipe too! And love the sound of the oil and would so like the book [cookery book moratoriums notwithstanding] . . . . just have to have those kibbeh recipes 🙂 !
Here is what I say to you… some women spend incredible amount of money buying shoes. Having weekly pedicures, monthly haircuts, dye-jobs, new clothes. A cookbook is culture. It is pleasure, it is part of making a house a happy home.
he, he, he… signed, Sally, the enabler
Sally dearHeart – go back a couple of decades and I would be the first to open the papers on Jourdan, Ferragamo, Magli and all else: an absolute ‘shoe freak’!!!! *Warmest laughter* I guess I have kind;of ‘grown up’ . . . know what I squish to my heart and laugh and love and take to bed . . . and even cook from . . . [sugar, what happened to English grammar 🙂 !!] all those paper bits with pretty pictures . . . [Oops, hate to tell: am awfully good at stying my own hair over the bathroom cabinet also:) !] Thank you for a big smile: it counts !!!!
Just the right amount of prose, heeheeh, I know exactly what you mean; that elusive balance we all try and achieve. I struggle with that a bit myself. Some weeks I feel rather mute, other weeks chattier :). What a lovely sounding dish, yes elegant as you say. I haven’t used white asparagus in a couple of years now — what a pretty contrast it provides against the vibrant green of the pistachio. And is it just me, I’m not sure I could resist drizzling the whole affair with a touch of honey :D. p.s. love the title of Maureen’s book.
I also love the title of her book, so poetic! and you are right, the perfect balance is something that probably every blogger (writer) strives to achieve. Not easy….
That cover photo alone would be enough to make me buy the book!! I love a good MIddle Eastern cookbook..those flavors just speak to me. Love how simply this asparagus is prepared, yet so full of flavor!
It is a gorgeous book, but of course the recipes are the most important part, and they are amazing…
i have never eaten white asparagus and would over to try it. I love how foods leave a memory. The first time I had asparagus was when I was 18 it was with creamy mushroom sauce. I loved it and since have been a big fan of the vegetable.