Thursday, June 14, 2012

White gold

Those of you who don't enjoy the taste of asparagus are going to be disappointed today because, like in the previous post, I'm gonna talk about asparagus. I'm becoming a bore, I know, but bear with me, I'm excited about this. Dear reader, I discovered that I like white asparagus and if I didn't hate exclamation points I would add about a million of them.

See, I was really harsh with those chubby ivory spears for quite a long time, refusing to eat them or even look at them. Living in Holland though, the land of the white asparagus, or white gold as they are affectionately called by the Dutch, I couldn't help but being persuaded to give them a try. Granted, it's been about five years coming but last week, fearing that it would be my last chance to taste them this year, I grabbed a bunch at my local greengrocer's and here I am. A convert.

White asparagus are actually pretty good and they have a sweeter, more delicate and less herbaceous flavor than their green counterparts. They are however very stringy and fibrous and that's why they need to always be peeled before eating or cooking them. The sunlight-deprived spears are delicious boiled and dressed with a rich Hollandaise sauce (a classic combination), made into a creamy soup, or what came as a big surprise to me, served raw.

You peel the asparagus and shave them into ribbons. You whip the ricotta with the zingy lime and sweet orange zest until it becomes creamy and spreadable and then you make a dressing with anchovy fillets and lime juice. You marinate the asparagus in the dressing for a little while, allowing the ingredients to get to know each other, you toast your bread, and you put everything together into a beautiful, scrumptious bruschetta.

By the way, I completely changed my recipe index page and made it much more functional and user friendly. Hope it's easier to find what you're looking for. Take a look.

White Asparagus and Ricotta Bruschetta
Adapted from here

I used a super rich ricotta which yielded a very smooth and luscious spread but fresh or homemade ricotta would work just as well.

White asparagus are more fibrous than the green ones, so you need to peel them a couple of times in order to get to the juicy, tender stuff.

Yield: 4 bruschette


for the ricotta spread
250 g ricotta
Zest of 1 lime
Zest of 1 orange

for the anchovy dressing
5 anchovy fillets in olive oil, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

4-5 fresh white asparagus
4 thick slices of bread (sourdough or multi-grain bread)
Freshly ground black pepper
Small rocket leaves

Special equipment: mortar and pestle, vegetable peeler


for the ricotta spread
In a medium-sized bowl, add the ricotta along with the lime and orange zest. Mix well with a spoon, until it becomes creamy and spreadable.

for the anchovy dressing
In a mortar, add the chopped anchovy fillets and mash them with the pestle until you have an almost smooth paste. Add the olive oil and the lime juice and mix well.

for the asparagus
Cut with a knife the woody bottom (about 1 cm) of the asparagus off and using a vegetable peeler, peel the asparagus a couple of times. Still using the vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus into thin ribbons.

Note: Make sure to cut the long ribbons into shorter ones so they'll be easier to bite into.

Place asparagus ribbons in a bowl and add the anchovy dressing. Toss with a fork and leave asparagus to marinate in the dressing for 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, toast the bread slices in the oven until crispy. Allow them to cool and then spread evenly the ricotta mixture on top of each slice.
Add the asparagus ribbons on top, sprinkle with some salt and freshly ground black pepper and garnish with the small rocket leaves.
If you want, drizzle some extra dressing over the top.
Serve the bruschette immediately.


  1. I haven't ever tried white asparagus--the skinniest of green asparagus is more my speed--but I may have to change my tune. That bruschetta looks fabulous!

  2. What a wonderful combination. I love the lime and orange zest in the ricotta and the anchovy dressed asparagus ribbons. Fabulous. I've never tried white asparagus. Maybe I'll be a convert, if I can still find any. If not, next year, for sure.

  3. Gasp! This is so dreamy :)
    I cannot wait for asparagus season here - I am going to make this for sure!

  4. As always, this sounds great and I really like the idea of the anchovy dressing. Oh, and the new recipe page looks perfect... now I am inspired to look at mine! ~ David

  5. I too have become a convert to the white stuff after resisting for a long time. I love it served with butter and breadcrumbs accompanied by potatoes - yum! Love the look of your bruschetta - may try it with quark as I find ricotta a bit heavy for a snack. Nice to see you also have good bread in the Netherlands.

  6. Only recently have I discovered my love for asparagus and I am sure I would love white as well! These bruschettas sound like the perfect idea as a snack during our hot summer days!

  7. Intriguing...I see those white asparagus all the time here (Paris) and for some reason they freak me out. But maybe I'll give them a try!

  8. I vaguely remember white asparagus from living in France years ago, but with your description and recipes I now feel tempted to try them again!

  9. So original, this looks divine. I have a hard time peeling the white asparagus, they kept snapping on me. I guess I was rushing it and needed a lighter touch. i am a huge ricotta fan, and with the two citrus zests, it must taste really bright.

  10. When I lived in Germany, during Spargelzeit (asparagus season) at the market there was a stall with a machine to peel the asparagus spears. It had the longest queue so I always peeled mine. I actually prefer green asparagus to white, but I am not so sure, so I always make sure I taste plenty of both whenever I have the occasion :)