April 11, 2011

Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

My husband and I always try to take advantage of Restaurant Week in Boston. It’s a great chance for us to try new restaurants that are normally out of our budget. We meet for lunch while our son’s in school, which means we actually get to go out without paying for a babysitter!

Last year during Restaurant Week we tried out L’Espalier. L'Espalier is a Boston institution known for its New England-French cuisine.

I’d found L’Espalier’s Restaurant Week menu online. I’d studied the menu and considered and reconsidered what I was going to order.

But now, one year later, the thing I remember most clearly is the side dish we ordered on impulse. As soon as we were seated last March, we noticed table after table ordering asparagus with hollandaise sauce. We figured all those people couldn’t be wrong and decided to give it a try.

It turned out to be the most memorable part of our meal. The asparagus spears were thick, but the ends were peeled so that they were tender from tip to stem. They’d been perfectly steamed. They were tender, but with just enough bite to make them interesting.

And oh, the hollandaise. It was thick, buttery, and creamy, with a lemony tang. My husband and I devoured as much hollandaise as we could with our asparagus. Then we shamelessly sopped up the rest with our bread. We only refrained from wiping the plate clean with our fingers because we were in a fancy restaurant!

Sadly, I can’t head over to L’Espalier every time I want some of that delicious hollandaise. So the other day when I noticed some early spring asparagus at the grocery store, I decided to try to make hollandaise sauce at home.

I looked at a number of recipes and finally decided on one by Ina Garten. I’ve made a bunch of Ina Garten’s recipes and they always come out great. So I figured I was in good hands.

One nice thing about this hollandaise recipe is that it’s made in a blender, thereby eliminating the need to whisk (which is how it’s done in more traditional recipes). There are also instructions on making the sauce ahead of time, which is great in case you don’t properly time your asparagus.

The recipe was terrific. The asparagus turned out tender and flavorful. The hollandaise was creamy and buttery and lemony with the tiniest little kick from the cayenne. And since I was at home, I ate the asparagus with my fingers, dipping it right into the hollandaise, and savoring every bite!

In this recipe, the asparagus is tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper, and then roasted in the oven. This caramelizes the asparagus a bit and really enhances the flavor.

For the hollandaise you need butter, egg yolks, lemon juice, cayenne, salt and pepper. No, it’s not health food.

To make the sauce you melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients to the blender and blend them for a few seconds to combine.

Then, with the blender running, slowly add the melted butter to the blender. (I transferred the melted butter to a measuring cup for neater pouring.) Blending the ingredients like this allows them to emulsify and become thick and creamy.

And that’s really it. You place the asparagus on a serving platter, top it with the hollandaise, and enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce

Recipe by Ina Garten

12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks)
4 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature (I used large egg yolks)
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 pinches of cayenne pepper
2 pounds fresh asparagus
Good olive oil

1.      Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2.      Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Place the egg yolks, lemon juice, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 3/4 teaspoon pepper and cayenne in the jar of a blender. Blend for 15 seconds. With the blender running, slowly pour the hot butter into the blender and blend for 30 seconds, until the sauce is thick. (You can leave it in the blender at room temperature for up to 1 hour. If it is made in advance, add 1 tablespoon hot tap water and blend for a few seconds before serving.)
3.      Break off the tough ends of the asparagus and, if they're thick, peel them. Place the asparagus on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, then toss to coat the asparagus completely. Spread the asparagus in a single layer and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Roast the asparagus for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender but still crisp.
4.      Pour the hollandaise sauce over the warm asparagus and serve.

Serves 8


  1. This asparagus dish can be complemented with a dry herbacious New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with citrus notes.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion -- asparagus is notoriously difficult to pair with wine!


I'd love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below.