Warm Asparagus Salad

True French vinaigrette is definitely an acquired taste. I can still remember the first time I had a salad in France! My taste buds got a little surprise. But it is essentially the only dressing used there so I started getting used to it and have come to appreciate the taste. Whether it be a green salad, a potato salad, carrot salad or asparagus, artichokes, or green beans – it is always the same vinaigrette! It really doesn’t taste at all like the bottled dressing sold over here but it is very easy to make! You don’t even need a recipe, it is more a formula.

Basically, you count one tablespoon of oil per person. The ratio of oil to vinegar is usually 3 : 1 or 4 : 1. Vinaigrette also includes mustard and chopped onions. Usually, sherry or wine vinegar is used (not balsamic) and Maille Dijon mustard. A sharp, good quality mustard is a must. The oil is less important to the French. You can use any good oil, olive oil or a combination of oils for a milder taste.

Whisking the mustard with the vinegar before adding the oil is an important step because the mustard acts as an emulsifier.

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While the combination of asparagus and vinaigrette is truly French, the addition of bacon and eggs adds a North American touch. It also transforms it from a first course to a light meal. I added the step of cooking the onion since this “salad” is served warm. A traditional vinaigrette would be prepared with raw onion.

Recipe for 3-4 people

about 2 lbs asparagus

The ends need to be trimmed before cooking. If you break them off by hand instead of cutting them with a knife, they usually break at the spot where the tough stalk meets the tender spear. You can grab a few at the same time and bend. Then boil in salted water and cook to the desired tenderness. Drain, and serve with the dressing while still warm.

Dressing:

1/4 tsp mustard
1 tbsp wine vinegar
4 tbsp oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
4 slices of bacon
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
salt and pepper to taste

In a pan, cook the bacon with 1 tbsp of oil on both sides until crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel. Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook in the oil and bacon fat that remains in the pan for just a minute.

In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard and vinegar, then add the remaining 3 tbsp of oil and season with salt, pepper and tarragon. Add the warm onion including the fat to the vinaigrette and drizzle over the asparagus.

Top with the bacon and a poached or fried egg.

 

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