This time of year local fresh asparagus begin to pop up at grocery stores everywhere. Because they’re in season, the price is right and those long sturdy stalks are just the right size for little hands to grab. But, the shining star is asparagus with lemon ricotta “mayonnaise”. A whirl in the food processor with a splash of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt yields a smooth and silky dip just like mayonnaise but so much better.
Asparagus cooking secret: Honor the natural flavor of asparagus with a simple steam in the microwave. Wrap asparagus in a wet paper towel and microwave on high for two minutes. Foolproof and table read. It’s a perfect cooking method to go with luscious fresh ricotta and lemon “mayonnaise”.
About fresh ricotta: Fresh is always best. Ricotta is a byproduct of cheese making. So think of your purchase like buying fresh cheese versus the packaged stuff that has a shelf life of months and months. Fresh ricotta will likely have no preservatives and minimal processing which is exactly what you want when it’s the focal point of the recipe.
The secret ingredient: Adding a touch of honey to the “mayonnaise” will balance out the acid in the lemon and the richness of the ricotta. A trick to measure honey without the sticky mess is to spray the measuring cup, spoon or whatever with cooking spray such as Pam.
- 1 pound asparagus, trimmed
- 1 cup fresh ricotta
- 3 tablespoons olive oil + more for drizzling
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- Touch (1/4 teaspoon) of honey
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt + more for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herb (mint, basil, parsley) for garnish
- Wash asparagus and wrap wet in wet paper towels. Place in the microwave and cook on high for two minutes. Cool slightly and place on a serving platter.
- In the bowl of a food processor, add ricotta, olive oil, lemon zest and juice, honey and salt. Puree until smooth like mayonnaise. Place in a small serving bowl. Drizzle more olive oil, sprinkle more salt and chopped fresh herbs.
- Serve “mayonnaise” as a dip for the asparagus or drizzle on top.