From Chef Oonagh Williams of Royal Temptations Catering
Buy enough asparagus for 3-5 pieces per person (or more), depending on whether the spears are thick or thin
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
¼ c orange juice concentrate, undiluted
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons maple syrup or honey
Grated zest of 1/4 or 1/2 orange
1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste, freshly ground black pepper
2-4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1-2 tablespoons ends of green onions or fresh chives
Chopped salted cashews - quantities to taste (optional)
1. In a small jug, mix together oil, vinegar, orange juice concentrate, mustard, honey or maple syrup, orange rind, salt and pepper. Stir well until honey/maple and salt are dissolved. Add fresh parsley and chives or green onions.
2. Alternatively put dressing ingredients (except parsley and green onions/chives) in small blender and run. Add herbs and run just to chop. If you run the blender too long then the dressing will turn pale green. The dressing will stay thick mixed in a blender. If you just mix it in a jug it tends to separate out on standing. The dressing stays a more orange color if you don't use the immersion blender to chop the herbs. Or, you can add some sour cream or mayo to give both a creamier texture and a lighter color.
3. Break asparagus at the bending point, discard ends and cook in single layer in a skillet of boiling water until tender. Just keep taste testing the asparagus to your preference. Roughly 10 minutes, but keep testing.
4. Drain and rinse in cold water containing some ice, drain again. This helps keep the bright green color of asparagus. You can cook the asparagus the day before.
5. Pour about half of dressing over cooked asparagus in 9” pie plate or similar size container where asparagus can lie flat in one layer. Refrigerate for about 2 hours. (Decant leftover dressing into jam jar or plastic container. It will last in the fridge for about 2 weeks. Stir well before use.)
6. Remove asparagus from fridge about half an hour before arranging on plates. Arrange asparagus spears together on individual plates, with tips pointing in one direction
7. Top with sprinkling of chopped cashews and serve with additional vinaigrette for those that like plenty of dressing.
Tips/Alternatives: You can also top asparagus with tiny, cooked salad shrimp, smoked salmon, crab, lobster, etc. (Just make sure it’s gluten-free)
Don’t choose asparagus by how thick or thin it is. The thickness difference is due to different varieties of asparagus (similar to Granny Smith v. Gala apples). Instead, look for tightly closed flower tips, no wetness/sliminess visible on the flower tips, and firm stalks without wrinkles.
Using orange zest as well as orange juice concentrate gives a really tangy orange vinaigrette. Leave out orange zest if you prefer vinaigrette to be less tangy.