There are times when I buy asparagus only for the tips and am left with several inches of tender stalk. That is never a problem for me, they quickly become a base for my favorite springtime sauce.
I don't remember when I first started making asparagus sauce; it's one of those seasonal staples that I pull out of my culinary closet like a favorite pair of sandals. Like the sandals, the sauce goes with everything and puts a 'spring in the step' of anything it's paired with.
The sauce varies every time I make it, adapting to what I have on hand. Basically, it consists of asparagus, leafy greens, and herbs; quickly pureed in a blender and emulsified with extra virgin olive oil. The asparagus can be whole stalks or trimmings, cooked until tender. The leafy greens can be arugula, spinach, sorrel, or even lettuce leaves. Herbs can be anything you like, although I avoid basil because of oxidation. Invariably, I include a form of raw allium to lift the flavors: scallions, ramps, spring onions, shallots are all good.
I urge you to try it for its versatility. It's fantastic with eggs, grilled or poached fish, and even makes chicken breast taste exciting. Its a delicious dip for raw vegetables, dressing for potato or pasta salad and makes the best risotto when stirred in at the final stage of cooking. It's so good that even these tiny fried spearings are falling all over themselves to get a taste.
3 cups cold water
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups of roughly chopped asparagus
1 1/2 cups of leafy greens (spinach, arugula, sorrel, lettuce), loosely packed
1/2 cup of fresh herbs (parsley, chervil, tarragon, cilantro), loosely packed
1 medium shallot, scallion, small spring onion, or small bunch of chives, roughly chopped
1 tsp salt
20 grinds black pepper
1/4 cup water from cooked asparagus
1 tsp lemon juice or vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Bring water and salt to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until tender. Place leafy greens, herbs, shallot, salt and pepper in a blender. Drain hot asparagus, reserving 1/4 cup of cooking water, add both to blender along with lemon juice. Blend on high speed, slowly drizzling in the olive oil until it is all incorporated and the sauce is smooth. Adjust seasoning to taste.
If it is to be served hot, serve immediately, or chill to serve cold. Sauce will keep in refrigerator for up to 5 days.