There are vegetables that scream flavor, and then there are those that speak softly. Asparagus whispers. I’ve had a love affair with asparagus for many years now and continuously stalk the perfect recipe. I’ve eaten asparagus dishes in France, in Napa, and in many of the best restaurants on both coasts. I love them all.
Perfectly cooked – blanched, not overly cooked — in boiling water, asparagus remains crisp. It is the epitome of freshness with a sweet, subtle purity of green flavor. I’ve tried grilling asparagus with mixed results, but cooking in salted steaming water is the way to go.
Today, I offer a simple salad recipe that I believe celebrates asparagus and elevates it with a Creole inspiration. This is a delicately spiced sauce, not a nostril-flaring horseradish sauce. The flavor of the shrimp is unmasked in this uncomplicated recipe, plus it’s healthy. Pairing ice-cold shrimp with cool, crisp asparagus is a welcome combination, and an entrée worthy of any dinner table.
Aspiring to greatness in a dish that is most deserving, this asparagus recipe shines light on an astonishing ingredient.
- 2 tablespoons Creole mustard or coarse-grained mustard
- 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 4 tablespoons finely diced yellow onion
- 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 dozen green asparagus spears
- Water, for boiling
- ½ cup salt
- 4 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons liquid crab boil seasoning or Cajun seasoning
- 1 pound peeled small (60 – 70 count) raw Louisiana shrimp
- ½ cup diced green onion tops
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- In a mixing bowl, add the mustard and mayonnaise along with the onions and celery. Whisk in the lemon juice and olive oil. Season with oregano, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate.
- Wash the asparagus and move to a cutting board. With a vegetable peeler, scrape the peeling from the lower portion of each stalk removing the tough exterior. Repeat until all are peeled.
- In a large covered pot over high heat, add enough water to come up to 4 inches on the side of the pot. Add the salt. Once the water comes to a boil, add the asparagus and cook for 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and let sit for another 4 minutes. With a slotted spoon, remove the asparagus to a container of ice water. Let the asparagus cool and then drain the water. Move the asparagus to a paper towel-lined platter.
- In the same pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the eggs. Once the water comes to a boil, turn off the heat and cover. Let the eggs sit in the water for 12 minutes. With a slotted spoon remove to a colander. Run cold water over the eggs until cooled. Peel the eggs and chop. Cover and refrigerate.
- In the same pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the crab boil seasoning. Add the shrimp and bring the water back to a boil. Turn off the heat and cover the pot. Let the shrimp soak in the seasoned water for 5 minutes and then remove to a colander. Run cold water over the shrimp to stop the cooking. Move to a paper towel-lined platter.
- For serving, arrange the asparagus on a large serving platter. Add half the shrimp and half the chopped boiled eggs to the dressing. Stir to incorporate. Spoon the dressing over the asparagus spears. Spoon additional chopped egg over the dressing and place remaining shrimp on top. Sprinkle with green onion tops. Squeeze a wedge of lemon over the asparagus and serve the remaining lemon wedges on the side. Sprinkle with salt and a grind of black pepper.
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