White asparagus salad with paprika alioli and saffron salt

White asparagus salad recipe
The dish is inspired by the amazing white asparagus that is grown in Navarra. Many of the salads served in the region are simple recipes where the asparagus is paired with subtle complimentary flavours. However, fresh white asparagus can be hard to find in the UK, so this version works well with the ready to serve versions that can now be purchased in jars in most supermarkets.
The flavours of hemp seeds and saffron salt are an unusual combination but pair well with the veg and the alioli adds a creamy texture which is a more classic accompaniment to the asparagus. The pecan nuts and croutons add some crunch.
This white asparagus salad is a dish that can be adapted depending on your store cupboard and makes a refreshing starter.

White asparagus salad Ingredients

    1. 5 fl oz olive oil (aceite de oliva)
    2. 3 fl oz sunflower oil (aceite de girasol)
    3. 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimentón dulce ahumado)
    4. 2 tsp sweet paprika (pimentón dulce)
    5. 1 egg yolk (yema de huevo)
    6. 1 lemon (limón)
    7. jar of white asparagus (espárragos blancos)
    8. 1/2 tbsp of hemp seeds (semillas de cáñamo)
    9. pinch of saffron (azafrán)
    10. handful of pecan nuts (pacanas)
    11. day old bread (pan duro)
    12. 1/2 tsp turmeric (cúrcuma)
    13. 1 tsp honey (miel)
    14. salad leaves (hojas de ensalada)
    15. salt (sal)
    16. freshly ground black pepper (pimienta recién molida negro)

    White asparagus salad Preparation

    • Tip: at first glance this white asparagus salad recipe may seem quite complicated but the techniques used are all quite simple and can come in useful for many other recipes.
    • The alioli could be used in many other recipes e.g.
    • you could substitute the paprika for garlic and serve with potatoes or fish.
    • The saffron salt can also be used to add interest to fish or meat dishes by rubbing a small amount into the flesh before cooking or it can be used to flavour soups and stews.

    For the paprika alioli:

    1. In a bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 tbsp of the lemon juice with the egg yolk, the paprika and 1/2 teaspoon of salt until smooth.
    2. Mix 3 fl oz of good olive oil with 3 fl oz of sunflower oil and add to the bowl a small drop at a time, whisking continuously.
    3. Eventually it will start to emulsify and you can slow the whisking down to a stirring motion until all the oil is blended and the mixture is the consistency of mayonnaise.
    4. Set aside to stand at room temperature.

    For the saffron salt:

    Combine 50 ml coarse salt and 1 tsp saffron threads in a blender with a splash of water until bright yellow and the salt is still fairly rough.
    Do not over-blend or you will end up with a powder.
    Any leftovers can be stored in an air-tight container for up to a month.
    Pre-heat oven to 350°F (175°C).
    Combine 1 tbsp of lemon juice with 1 tsp of honey and pour over the white asparagus and leave to one side.
    Now gently heat the hemp seeds (tip: if you cannot get hemp seeds use poppy seeds instead) for about 1 minute in a hot, dry frying pan; keep moving them and avoid colouring them or they will go bitter.
    Set aside to cool and then crush in a pestle and mortar with a good pinch of crushed black pepper.
    Mix the turmeric into 2 fl oz of olive oil with a pinch of salt and then cut a slice or two of day old farmhouse bread into cubes of about 2cm square.
    Toss the bread in a bowl with the oil until thoroughly coated and yellow in colour.
    Place on a baking tray in the pre heated oven for about 20-30 mins, turning once, until light and crispy but not browned.
    To prepare the asparagus for serving, sprinkle some of the seed mixture in a diagonal line across a chopping board and roll the first asparagus spear parallel to the chopping board across the diagonal line to create a 'helter skelter' line around the spear (you may have to experiment to get this right).
    Continue until all the spears have been done this way and set aside.
    Remove the croutons from the oven and then quickly dip one side of each crouton in olive oil and then sweet paprika (non-smoked).
    To serve, spoon a generous dollop of alioli on the plate and drag the spoon away from it to create a 'comet' shape and then sprinkle a small line of saffron salt across the plate (not too much, it is quite strong).
    Lay a couple of the asparagus spears across the plate and another one resting on top of those.
    Now carefully place the croutons, pecans and salad leaves around the plate.
    Finish off with a few drops of olive oil around the plate but avoid drizzling it on the salt.

    Tip: the presentation method for our white asparagus salad is only a guideline so please feel free to experiment with your own presentations techniques.

    White asparagus salad Recipe

    White asparagus salad
    This white asparagus salad recipe is great to prepare as an impressive starter at a summer dinner party with a Spanish theme!