For me, asparagus signals the start of spring! The first signs are the purple and white varieties popping up at the farmers markets everywhere. I absolutely love viola asparagus. Combined with Belgium endive in a tangy lemon-dill dressing, it makes a perfect side dish or salad.
Viola asparagus is similar in appearance and flavor to the white and green varieties, though is differentiated by its violet hue, tender, less fibrous texture and fragrant flavor, offering a preferred sweetness – it has a twenty percent higher sugar content than other asparagus varieties.
If you are looking to dress this salad up a little differently, it also combines wonderfully with the addition of fresh peas or crisp slices of tangy apples.
Sadly viola asparagus loses its beautiful color after being blanched, but at least its delicate sweetness remains.
Lemon-Dill Viola Asparagus with Belgium Endive
Serves 2 as a main, or 4 as a side salad
500 g fresh (purple passion) viola asparagus, trimmed (alternatively use green or white asparagus)
2 Belgium endive, chopped
6 green onions, white/light green parts only, sliced thinly
8 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
zest of 1/2 organic lemon
juice of 1 large organic lemon (or 2 small lemons)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
freshly grated parmesan, garnish
1. Snap the woody stem from the asparagus and blanch in a pot of boiling water for about 45 seconds to one minute (depending on size); asparagus should remain crisp. Immediately transfer the asparagus to a bowl of ice water. Once cool, drain.
2. Whisk together the olive, oil, lemon juice, zest, and dill. Season with salt and pepper and combine thoroughly.
3. In a serving bowl, toss the asparagus, endive and green onions with the dressing until coated. Garnish with parmesan and serve.