All winter I listened to Germans (and fellow expats) lament about the weather, complaining about the never ending cold. While I was certainly put off by their negativity about my new home (having weathered a Chicago winter, Berlin’s winter was nothing), I was just as eager as the masses for Spargel season to arrive. I remember eating asparagus soup here as a child and although asparagus is a similarly popular courier of spring in the U.S., there is something very German about the verdant vegetable. Germany even crowns a Spargelkönigin or Asparagus Queen!
The warm weather finally broke last week and with it came asparagus! I happily bought a few bundles to share with our April house guests (including the German preferred white variety). While Spargelsuppe is the dish of my childhood memories, the warm sunny weather called for something cool and refreshing. I’ve been on a tahani dressing kick lately, so I started with that; the earthy, sesame paste offers the creaminess of a mayo-based vinegerette with the added bonus of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. For crunch I used Runkelrübe, which we’ve been getting from our CSA, and I’ve discovered to be sugar beet. Although this tuber looks like a giant red beet, the flesh is white and has a crunchy sweet texture, similar to jicama. Yellow beet or jicama would be a fine substitution if you can’t find sugar beet. All together it’s a lovely, simple, fresh salad and one I have a feeling with become a regular on our table throughout the rest of spargel season (which I just found out ends quite specifically on June 24th, the feast of St. John the Baptist and the date the Germans decide the harvest has lasted long enough).
Serving: 1 cup
1 shallot, minced
3 tablespoons tahini
4 tablespoons olive oil
7 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon water
Freshly cracked black pepper
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the shallot, tahini, olive oil, vinegar, and water until mixture is smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Asparagus-Beet Salad with Tahini Dressing
Serving: 4 people
1 bunch asparagus, stems trimmed
1/2 sugar beet, julienned
2 tablespoons Tahini Dressing
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the asparagus, cooking for about 8 minutes until tender. Shock in ice water and drain. Slice on a bias to 1/2-inch pieces.
In a medium-sized bowl, combine the asparagus, beets and dressing. Toss to combine and enjoy.