We just ate asparagus FIVE days in a row and would have been pretty asparagused out if it hadn't been for this exciting new discovery – asparagus salsa! Green salsa, or salsa verde, usually contains tomatillos or copious amounts of herbs but this version gets it vivid color from asparagus spears.
We first tasted a variation of this sauce at an event catered by Guerra's Gourmet in Washington's Yakima Valley. They called it "asparagus guacamole" but it doesn't contain avocado so we're going with "salsa." Scooped up with tortilla chips or spooned onto tacos, the sauce was so pretty and fresh tasting that we had to try making it at home.
We briefly blanched and cooled the asparagus spears, chopped them up, and whizzed them in a blender with zesty ingredients like onions, garlic, jalapeño, and lime. (Keep the jalapeño seeds if you like it spicy, or remove them for a milder sauce. We used about half.) The flavor is bright and has the sweet grassiness of asparagus but we suspect one might be able to feed it to vegetable-averse eaters and they'd enjoy it just as much as asparagus lovers.
1 pound asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed or snapped off
1/2 white onion, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 jalapeño chile, cored and seeded, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican) (optional)
Pinch of salt
Blanch the asparagus: Have ready a bowl of ice water. Bring a pot of water to boil over high heat. Add a tablespoon of salt and the asparagus and boil just until tender and bright green, about 1-2 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears. Remove the asparagus spears with tongs or a slotted spoon and plunge them into the ice bath to cool.
Remove the cooled asparagus spears from the water, pat dry, and chop into 1-inch pieces. Place in a blender along with the other ingredients and purée until smooth. If mixture seems too thick, stir down with a spoon, add 1-2 teaspoons of water, and blend. Repeat if necessary.
Taste and adjust seasonings if desired.
Serve with tortilla chips or as a garnish for tacos, burritos, tostadas, etc.
Recipe inspired by Guerra's Gourmet of Sunnyside, Wash.
(Images: Emily Ho)