A Tale of Two Asparagus Dishes

Asparagus….one of my favorite vegetables to eat, especially for Easter Dinner.

Today, I present two dishes from two different eras: Marinated Asparagus (18th Century)  and   Sauteed Asparagus with Gribiche Sauce (20th Century).

 

Marinated Asparagus

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Asparagus became widely available in America during Colonial times, and was a particular favorite of Thomas Jefferson. This dish is prepared by a common French technique that dates back to the Roman Era. Jefferson enjoyed this recipe for asparagus while he was Minister to France. Given how much asparagus grew in his gardens at Monticello, this dish was more than likely prepared by his enslaved French-trained chef, James Hemings and later served at Monticello and at the White House.

Sauteed Asparagus with Gribiche Sauce

 

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Gribiche Sauce is basically Egg salad’s sophisticated cousin. This sauce dates back to the early 20th century when the “mother sauces” were established by French chefs Marie Antoine-Carême and Auguste Escoffier. Although gribiche is not considered a foundational sauce in the French culinary sphere, it originates as a variant of the egg-based “mother sauce,” hollandaise. It has been adapted and modified by chefs and writers, but the true essence of gribiche remains: finely chopped hard-boiled eggs mixed with mustard, herbs, and capers for an added bit of tanginess. The hard-boiled eggs are key: this is the defining difference between gribiche and mayonnaise, which is made with raw eggs.

The nature of a sauce is that it rarely ever tastes the same, and this rings especially true for gribiche where the components to create your personal version of it are almost always on hand. Cornichon pickles, shallots, and red wine vinegar are among the many ingredients that can be added to the recipe. It can be served as an accompaniment alongside an appetizer of cured meats, as a flavorful addition draped over roasted fish and vegetables, or simply as a dipping sauce for a fresh baguette. It’s safe to say gribiche’s ease, versatility, and flavor have won the hearts of culinary enthusiasts around the world.

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