Asparagus with toasted sesame aioli
Here's a great appetizer for springtime entertaining. The bold, toasty sesame oil adds depth to the classic French garlic-lemon sauce. Arrange the crisp-tender asparagus spears, tips up, in a tall, clear glass, with the sesame sauce nearby, served in a radicchio leaf cup to add color.
16 medium-thick asparagus spears (about 12 ounces), trimmed to even lengths
Toasted Sesame Aioli
¼ cup mayonnaise1 tablespoon dark (Asian) sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
To complete the recipe
1 radicchio leaf, optional
Additional toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Steam the asparagus in a covered steamer over boiling water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Or, put the asparagus in a microwave-proof dish; add about 2 tablespoons water. Cover tightly and microwave on high for about 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain well. Rinse with cold water and drain again.
Meanwhile, make the aioli: Stir together all the aioli ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
To serve, arrange the asparagus spears in a tall, clear glass container. Spoon the sauce into a radicchio leaf or small dish, garnish with sesame seeds, and place nearby for dipping.
The asparagus can be cooked up to 1 day in advance. The sauce will keep for up to 1 week in a covered container in the refrigerator. Bring both to room temperature for serving.
Paulette Mitchell, a culinary instructor, television personality, spokesperson, freelance food writer, and the award-winning author of 13 cookbooks, is known internationally for her quick-to-prepare recipes with gourmet flair. Paulette's most recently published cookbook is "The Complete 15-Minute Gourmet: Creative Cuisine Made Fast and Fresh." She is also the author of "A Beautiful Bowl of Soup" and "The Spirited Vegetarian," which was voted "Best Book in the World on Cooking with Wine" at the 2005 Gourmand World Media Awards. Paulette says that international travel is her favorite source of culinary inspiration.