Fresh asparagus is always a delight, and when I saw this beautiful bunch at the store, I immediately grabbed it.I decided to roast it with a crispy topping, and serve it with a tasty, bright yellow saffron-garlic mayonnaise. This colorful and tasty combination is wonderful when served as a first course, as a side dish for grilled fish or meat, or as a part of a brunch buffet. Try it and enjoy.
* Contrary to common belief, mayonnaise is very easy to make. As long as you keep a few things in mind, success is guaranteed: 1) the ingredients have to be at room temperature, 2) make sure to add the lemon and mustard to the egg yolks right from the start, as they help the emulsifying process.
* I like my mayonnaise thick and “heavy”, and so use less oil and more egg yolks than in most mayonnaise recipes. If you prefer a lighter mayonnaise, this is not the recipe for you.
* The mayonnaise can keep, in an airtight container in the fridge, for 3 days.
* As with any food that contains raw eggs, it’s best not to give it to anyone who may have a weak immune system.
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
For the mayonnaise:
About 8 saffron threads
1 Tbs warm water
2 L egg yolks
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
½ cup Safflower oil
¼ cup olive oil
For the asparagus:
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 tsp red Alaea Hawaiian salt (or any other, as long as it’s not very fine)
1/3 cup dried shallots
½ tsp freshly ground 4 pepper mix
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1 bunch asparagus (about 20 each)
2 egg whites, lightly whisked
1. The mayonnaise: in a small bowl, mix the saffron threads with the warm water. Let steep for a minute.
2. Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt and the saffron, in a small food processor bowl. Whisk briefly and add half the amount of oil. Whisk again and add the rest of the oil. Whisk again just until a thick mayonnaise is formed. Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the fridge until using.
3. The asparagus: preheat the oven to 420F (215C). Line a large cookie sheet pan with baking paper.
4. Cut off about 1” (2.5cm) of the asparagus ends. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the lower part, up to about half the size. (No need to do that if you’re using thin asparagus).
5. Place in a large pan, in one layer, and add ¼ cup water. Cover the pan and let steam on high heat for about two minutes, until the asparagus is bright green, tender but still firm. Dry gently with paper towels. Coat with the egg whites and place in the pan, in one layer.
6. Mix the bread crumbs, salt, dried shallots, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Scatter over the asparagus, mostly over the lower part.
7. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the topping is crispy. Serve warm, with the mayonnaise.