Asparagus with Smoked Mussel Aioli

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April is prime time for these bright green beauties and whether you buy your asparagus pencil thin or super thick, look to chef Eric Frier’s spring-inspired spin on the nutrient-heavy veggie. Smoked mussel aioli and puffed wild rice add creamy and crunchy elements into the mix, respectively, taking these cast iron-seared spears to the next level. This recipe serves four as an appetizer or two as a side dish, or you can pair it with something like grilled lamb, pale ale steamed mussels or grilled chicken thighs to make a more substantial feast.

Ingredients

for the asparagus 
  • 1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Lemons for squeezing
  • 1/4 cup smoked mussel aioli
  • 1/2 cup puffed wild rice
  • 1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
for the aioli
  • 50g smoked mussels (you can find these at Dave's Fresh Pasta in Somerville, a specialty fish monger, or make your own)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 12 grams dijon mustard
  • 5 grams garlic, fresh
  • 20 grams lemon juice
  • Salt to taste
  • Lukewarm water
  • 150 grams neutral oil
for the puffed wild rice
  • 3 tablespoons raw wild rice
  • Neutral oil
  • Salt

Directions

for the aioli
  1. In a blender on low speed, blend everything together except for the oil until smooth.
  2. Slowly but steadily stream in the oil until emulsified (if the mixture gets too thick, add a little water).
  3. Adjust seasoning with salt if needed. It should taste lemony, bright, and slightly smokey.
for the puffed wild rice
  1. In a 10" heavy bottom saute pan, heat enough oil to give you about half an inch across the surface of the pan to 415F (an infrared thermometer works best for this).
  2. While the oil is heating, set up a large strainer over a metal bowl and a sheet pan lined with paper towels.
  3. Once the pan has reached temp, working very carefully, add the rice to the pan and swirl the pan until all of the rice has puffed. It happens very quickly. Immediately strain all of the rice out of then pan and transfer to the tray.
  4. Use the leftover oil to cook with or save for the next time you make puffed rice.
  5. Season while hot with plenty of salt.
to assemble 
  1. Heat a large cast iron pan over med-high heat. Season your asparagus with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  2. Sear the asparagus until well roasted but not mushy. Transfer to a plate and season with lemon juice. Top with the aioli, puffed rice, and parsley. Serve!

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