warm asparagus with chopped bearnaise sauce

Today’s recipe is my own adaptation of a classic French dish, strangely named “asparagus mimosa.”  I remember the first time I saw this dish listed on a menu in Montreal, I made the logical assumption that it would be asparagus cooked in champagne and orange juice.  Thinking myself quite avant garde at the time, I talked the boy I was seeing then into some boozy asparagus spears.  Needless to say, we were surprised to find our asparagus draped in eggs and lemon juice instead of champagne.

This was back in the pre-iPhone era [I didn’t even have a cell phone at the time] when, without google’s wizardry readily at your fingertips, bombshells like this remained shrouded in mystery for some time.  As it turns out, the French are referencing the obscure mimosa flower here (yellow and white) instead of the common bubbly cocktail.  Very romantic indeed.

Traditionally, Asparagus Mimosa is made by pressing hard cooked eggs through a coarse sieve, creating very finely shredded eggs, which are then tossed with lemon, butter or olive oil, salt, and asparagus.  I like my eggs with a bit more structure, so I reach for a kitchen knife instead of a sieve.  Today’s version plays off the classic flavors in bearnaise sauce – egg yolk, shallot, capers, lemon, and tarragon for a zesty spring dish.  Feel free to garnish your asparagus as you like, the recipe here is more suggestion than formula; any fresh herbs, citrus, or fragrant oils work beautifully here.  Serve as a side dish or starter or add a big piece of crusty bread (and maybe the aforementioned cocktail) and call it dinner.

Two Years Ago: Lime & Graham Cracker Ice Cream.

Warm Asparagus with Chopped Bearnaise Sauce

Serves 2-4

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bunch asparagus, well washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 small shallot, finely diced
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tbsp capers, drained
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped tarragon

Bring a small pot of water to a boil.  Add the eggs and boil 9 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl of ice water to cool.  Once cool, peel and chop roughly.

Meanwhile, bring a shallow pan of water to a boil (something large enough to fit the asparagus.)  Once boiling, add the asparagus and cook 2 minutes.  Drain and transfer to a platter. (If you are planning to serve the asparagus later, transfer it to a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking – when ready to serve, continue by making the sauce and be sure to warm your asparagus through before serving.)

Pour the water out of the pan and return it to medium heat.  Melt the butter and add the shallots – cook 2-3 minutes until softened.  Add the lemon juice and capers and a big pinch of salt and pepper.  Return the asparagus to the pan and toss to coat with sauce.  Transfer back to the platter and top with the chopped eggs and tarragon.

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