Last week I was back home in the Netherlands for a quick visit and I was lucky enough to find out it was asparagus season again! Traditionally, asparagus season starts on the second Thursday of April and continues until the 24th of June… So, if you’re in the Netherlands you’ve still got some time to grab some before they are gone!
Because asparagus season really is quite short, it’s not so strange that around this time every spring the Dutch go nuts over these white, paintbrush-shaped vegetables. Lovingly dubbed ‘the white gold’ (“het witte goud” in Dutch) and ‘the queen of vegetables’, these pale veggies are considered to be so valuable not only because of the short time of availability, but because harvesting is done almost entirely by hand – for one kilogram of asparagus the farmer has to bend down approximately fifteen times. Of course, they’re also really tasty.
There are many ways to prepare asparagus, but this recipe here with ham, egg and a buttery sauce is a traditional favorite in the Netherlands; simple, yet tasty. For many, asparagus may only be a simple ingredient used in salads and soups, but in this dish they really are the main star of the meal. I’ve added some potatoes to make a more substantial meal, but these can be omitted should you like to serve the asparagus as a light lunch.
I personally like to serve the asparagus with a simple, tangy hollandaise*, which is a French sauce and not a Dutch one despite the name, but many Dutch keep it even simpler by drizzling a lot of melted butter and lemon juice over their ‘white gold’. While I’d never say no to a good drizzle of melted butter on veggies and potatoes, it’s worth going the little extra mile for your ‘white gold’ by making a nice creamy hollandaise… I mean, it’s still mostly melted butter, but classy… I suppose.
*the recipe for my hollandaise is in another post here
Dutch Asparagus with Ham, Egg and Hollandaise
- 1kg white asparagus, peeled
- 800g baby potatoes, unpeeled
- 4 eggs
- 8 slices of cooked, or grilled ham
- 40g butter
- 4 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
- Coarse salt
- For the hollandaise:
- 125g butter
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Scrub the baby potatoes until clean. Put the potatoes in a pan and cover them with water. Add some salt and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the potatoes are tender, for about 20 minutes. When the potatoes are ready, drain them and add 40g of butter, the chopped flat leaf parsley and a pinch of coarse salt. Mix until the butter has melted and covered all the potatoes. Set aside.
- In the meantime boil the eggs in a small saucepan for 6 minutes for a nice soft yolk. Peel the eggs and set aside until serving.
- In another pot large enough for the asparagus, bring salted water to a boil. Use a vegetable peeler to remove the tougher skin of the asparagus and cut about 2 cm from the bottom of the asparagus. When the water is boiling add the asparagus and boil for about 12 - 15 minutes until they are tender. Remove asparagus from the pot.
- The Hollandaise sauce should be made right before serving as the sauce needs to be served warm, but does not re-heat well. (recipe here)
- To serve, place the asparagus on a plate all facing the same way. Place your parsley and butter covered baby potatoes, halved boiled eggs, and slices of ham around the asparagus. Cover the asparagus with a good amount of the Hollandaise sauce, or melted butter. Serve immediately.