Asparagus is the quintessential spring vegetable, and a roasted tender white asparagus recipe drizzled with sherry shallot dressing is the perfect side dish for your next spring dinner.
I love it when asparagus starts popping up everywhere, that is a sign that it is truly spring and everything that comes with it (warmer weather, longer days, the sun).
With Easter right around the corner, I thought we could all use a new asparagus recipe. I have been serving my asparagus with sauce gribiche every Easter for a lot of years, but am planning to mix it up this year with white asparagus and a fresh light sherry shallot dressing that is as versatile as ever.
Why you'll love this recipe
- It showcases white asparagus, something not terribly common in the States.
- Roasting white asparagus concentrates its flavors and gives it a great texture.
- The dressing is versatile and can be used to top other vegetables and salads.
- White asparagus is good for you. Like its counterpart, green asparagus it is packed with vitamins.
What is white asparagus?
It is a special variety of asparagus that is grown without exposure to sunlight, as it is grown under a sandy soil instead of out in the open. This prevents the development of chlorophyll, which gives green asparagus its color. It is common across much of Europe, especially in Germany, where they hold several asparagus festivals (which now knowing this exists, I totally want to go to one).
I have noticed, throughout the years that white asparagus, while not nearly as common and widely available as green, is becoming more prevalent in grocery stores. I was easily able to find it in three separate stores this week.
Does it taste different from green asparagus?
It definitely does. I think green asparagus has a pretty strong flavor and is very earthy. White asparagus is much more mild and sweeter, to me. It also cooks up more tender once you peel and remove the tough bottom.
The asparagus part of this recipe speaks for itself, and only needs a bit of olive oil drizzled before roasting. But the amazing sherry shallot dressing has a few ingredients. Here's what you need:
- White asparagus
- Sherry vinegar. This is my all-time favorite vinegar, and I use it constantly. I buy this one on Amazon, but I have seen it in grocery stores too.
- Garlic cloves
- Dijon mustard
- Brown sugar. I have found that all vinaigrettes get their balance of flavor from a little sweetness added. I often times use honey, but I think the brown sugar goes better with the sherry vinegar.
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
How to roast the white asparagus
One of the easiest and tastiest ways to cook white asparagus is to roast it in the oven. Roasting brings out the natural sweetness of the vegetable and creates a caramelized crust on the tips. It also requires minimal preparation and ingredients, which is what makes this such a great easy side dish for your next spring party.
It has a slightly stringier outer layer than the green variety, so you'll have to do some peeling of the outer layer. Also trim the bottom off as it can be tough.
After that place on parchment and drizzle with olive oil, not a ton, just a few teaspoons, we don't want to soak them in oil.
Roast them at a high temperature for a short amount of time to concentrate the flavor and get them softened and a little browned.
How to make the sherry shallot dressing
The nice thing about making vinaigrettes like this is that you can easily do them in a blender. This is how I did and the oil gets emulsified with the vinegar and other ingredients, and you get a silky smooth, velvety, almost creamy dressing. I like to leave out a bit of the chopped shallots to sprinkle on at the end for garnish and texture, but you certainly don't have to do this.
Alternatively you don't have to blend everything in a blender or food processor at all, and can simply whisk all the ingredients together like a traditional vinaigrette.
To make my creamier dressing, throw everything into a blender or food processor and blend until totally smooth and emulsified. Couldn't be simpler.
Ingredient swaps and variations
Vegetable recipes are incredibly adaptable, and here are some ideas:
- Roast a different kind of vegetable and drizzle with the dressing. Sherry shallot dressing is great on all kinds of vegetables. I mean, obviously you could use green asparagus, but this is also great over roasted carrots, peppers, green beans or artichokes. Honestly I have made an entire roasted vegetable platter, served at room temperature drizzled with the dressing, and it was a huge hit.
- Try grilling the white asparagus instead of roasting. You will get similar results without having to turn on, or use up, oven space.
- Make it spicy. When making the sherry shallot dressing, add a chili pepper or small amount of a crushed red pepper before blending.
- Use a different vinegar. Don't have sherry vinegar? Apple cider vinegar works as a great substitute and I have made this with malt vinegar as well and really liked it.
- Double the dressing recipe and use for salads. The great thing about this dressing is that you can make double and save some for salads. It will keep just fine in a jar in the fridge for up to 10 days.
You don't want to skip the peeling of white asparagus. I know it can be an extra step that is a pain, and I know that not all green asparagus requires peeling, but these are different than green ones. And the outside of them is way more fibrous that a green asparagus. Don't go nuts, but a quick once over peeling makes all the difference.
Other great side dishes for spring
Easter and spring dinner get easy upgrades with some of my other great side dishes:
- blender or food processor
For the roasted asparagus
- 2 bunches white asparagus peeled and bottoms trimmed
- 2 teaspoon olive oil
For the sherry shallot dressing
- ¼ cup finely chopped shallots
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic cloves
- ⅓ cup sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- ⅔ cup of olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon chopped chives optional as a garnish
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Place your peeled and trimmed white asparagus on the lined baking sheet and drizzle with the 2 teaspoon of olive oil and sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until tender and lightly browned on the outside.
- Meanwhile make the dressing. Simply place all ingredients (leaving out a teaspoon of the chopped shallots) in a blender or food processor and blend on high until completely blended and emulsified. The dressing should look almost creamy and be thick. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.
- Place the roasted white asparagus on a platter and drizzle with the dressing and top with the chopped shallots and chives, if using, to garnish.
The sherry shallot dressing can be made up to 10 days ahead and stored in a mason jar in the fridge. For drizzling on roasted vegetables, I would serve the dressing at room temperature (leave out of the fridge for about 45 minutes before serving), but for salads you can use cold. Shake dressing in the mason jar before using again.