This simple white asparagus pasta salad adds a ton of protein with broth-poached chicken breast. It's then tossed in a light honey-lemon vinaigrette and garnished with green onion, radishes and lots of gruyère cheese. Perfect as a main meal or to serve as a side with more grilled meats and veggies.
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Spargelzeit in Germany
It's Spargelzeit, which is white asparagus season in Germany aka the fifth season. For roughly two months out of the year, in April and May, Germans consume so much asparagus that the whole country's bathrooms smell like asparagus. And like most Germans, I can’t stop eating it until it comes out of my ears! Let me insert a sincere apology to you if for some reason you stumbled over this recipe, yet you don't even like asparagus! If you want to understand the Germans infatuation with white asparagus, think of it sort of like a parallel universe to Americans' obsession with everything pumpkin spice. Except it's tulips for the table decor instead of gourds. This white asparagus noodle salad is so simple, fresh and delicious, it'll easily become a go-to for asparagus season.
By the way, if you haven’t tried my other Spargel recipes, please check them out. The ladder must be my favorite of them all.
White Asparagus with Noodles
Today’s white asparagus pasta salad recipe is so super simple, you’ll be making this over and over again, I promise. I think it goes great on its own, so there is no need to serve anything else with it. You also don’t have to allow for the chicken and pasta to cool down if you’d prefer more of a warm pasta salad. I love the radishes in this salad, which add a nice crunch factor. The chicken is quickly sautéed and then finished in broth for a poached effect. The broth also keeps the chicken moist and perfect.
How to Cook White Asparagus
The white asparagus itself is blanched, meaning it's added to boiling water and then gets transferred with the help of a metal skimmer to a bowl of ice water. This stops the cooking process immediately and helps retain a good texture (and color if it had much of a color, so this is a great method to use for green asparagus too). The boiling water also has salt and a bit of sugar added to counteract the bitterness in the asparagus.
Where To Buy It
When I polled my followers on Instagram last year about growing asparagus in the backyard, we all decided it’s not worth it. Instead if we want to enjoy this suck up the higher price tag for this 'white gold' (compared to its green or even purple relatives). If you have a Whole Foods around, give them a call. I can usually always find it there, even year round now. In the United States, it is not from Germany, but usually from Peru.
Why Is White Asparagus More Expensive?
Did you know white asparagus is harvested while it is still underground? Otherwise it would turn green! This requires extra work and more risk of the spears popping up too soon, which adds to the price tag. The extra cost is worth it however! The white color results in a more delicate flavor that I (and mostly all other Germans) love so much! And don't forget to peel those stalks from the tip down because the skin is pretty tough! See the recipe below for notes on how to peel white asparagus.
A Note On Ingredients
White Asparagus. It's not as easy to find as green, but Whole Foods usually carries it, flown in from Peru.
Chicken Breast. Trim any excess fat and you're good to go.
Chicken Broth. To poach the chicken in.
Pasta. I love the butterfly noodles I used, or any other colorful, short noodles for pasta salad.
Gruyère Cheese. It gives this salad a bit of rustic flavor and gets sprinked over the top. Feel free to substiturte with any other cheese you love. Costco carries Gruyère at such a good price and I love using it in omelets, quiche, on sandwiches and in cheese fondue.
Spring Onions. For that fresh, but not too overpowering onion flavor.
Radishes. To add a little crunch.
Fresh Lemon Juice. Squeeze a fresh lemon. It's worth it.
Olive Oil. Just EVOO.
Dijon Mustard. A little bit to add to the dressing.
Honey. A little bit to sweeten the dressing.
A Note on Tools
Skimmer. For removing the asparagus from the boiling water. You'll then boil the pasta in it. This way you're saving yourself from having to get more pots dirty than you need to. A large metal skimmer is also great to have for making homemade fries, Berliner, and Spätzle.
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I received compensation from Marussia Beverages in exchange for writing this post. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions, thoughts and recipes are my own. This post contains affiliate links, which means that I may be compensated if you click certain links.
Spargel-Nudelsalat: German Pasta Salad with White Asparagus
Pasta Salad Ingredients
- 250 g chicken breast
- 500 ml chicken broth
- 500 g pasta I used papillon pasta, fancy bowtie pasta to look like butterflies, but you can use any pasta shape you like. My favorites are farfalle (bowtie) or fussili (spiral) for pasta salads.
- 500 g white asparagus one bunch
- 150 g gruyère You could also use Swiss cheese, gouda or any other cheese of your liking! I just like the rustic flavor gruyère adds.
- 2 spring onions
- 5 radishes
- Trim the chicken breast, then sauté in a bit of olive oil for a couple of minutes on both sides until browned.
- Pour the chicken broth into the pan (start with a little less) and allow to cook on medium low for about 10 minutes, turning the chicken a couple times in the broth. If the liquid gets low, fill up with more broth.
- Remove the chicken from the pan, allow to cool a bit, then slice into strips.
- Peel the white asparagus (I know... a pain), then add to a pot of salted water with a teaspoon of sugar. The sugar is added to avoid the aspargus tasting bitter as it often does. It also helps with cooking green asparagus. Allow to gently boil for about 8 minutes. Then remove with a skimmer and transfer to a bowl of ice water. Save the cooking water for the pasta.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water. Cook according to packaging instructions until al dente. Drain the pasta and allow to cool. You can toss it with a bit of olive oil to prevent it from sticking as it cools.
- Cut the asparagus into bite-sized pieces. Wash and trim the radishes. Cut even, thin slices (I think this is best achieved with this slicer and the satisfaction level is high). Add cut up asparagus, radish slices, pasta and sliced chicken to a large serving bowl.
- Whisk together all dressing ingredients and pour over salad and toss it all together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cut the green onions into rings and sprinkle over the top. Grate the cheese and sprinkle over the top. Serve as a main meal (serving 4) or side salad (serving 8).