The combination of asparagus and hollandaise is quintessential in French cooking. Steamed asparagus is typically used, but the combination gets even better when the asparagus is roasted; the browning adds deep flavour to the sweet and verdant vegetable.
This complexity called out for a hollandaise with a bit more character than our lemon-scented standby, so we decided to use our Foolproof Mustard-Dill Hollandaise; tasters thought its zingy, herbal flavour woke up the dish. When roasting the asparagus, America’s Test Kitchen discovered that thicker spears held up better to the high heat. Peeling the bottom halves of the stalks ‚Äî just enough to expose the creamy white flesh ‚Äî delivered consistently tender and visually appealing asparagus.
To ensure a hard sear on our spears, we preheated the baking sheet and resisted the urge to give it a shake during roasting. This recipe works best with thick asparagus spears that are between 1/2 and 3/4 inch in diameter. Do not use pencil-thin asparagus; it overcooks too easily.
ROASTED ASPARAGUS WITH MUSTARD-DILL HOLLANDAISE
Servings: 4 to 6
Start to finish: 20 minutes
2 pounds thick asparagus, trimmed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Foolproof Mustard-Dill Hollandaise
3 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons lemon juice
Pinch cayenne pepper, plus extra for seasoning
16 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and still hot (180 degrees)
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh dill
Adjust oven rack to lowest position, place rimmed baking sheet on rack, and heat oven to 500 degrees. Peel bottom halves of asparagus spears until white flesh is exposed, then toss with oil, salt, and pepper in bowl.
Transfer asparagus to preheated sheet and spread into single layer. Roast, without moving asparagus, until undersides of spears are browned, tops are bright green, and tip of paring knife inserted at base of largest spear meets little resistance, 8 to 10 minutes.
To prepare hollandaise, process egg yolks, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cayenne in blender until frothy, about 10 seconds, scraping bottom and sides of blender jar as needed. With blender running, slowly add hot butter and process until hollandaise is emulsified, about 2 minutes. Adjust consistency with hot water as needed until sauce slowly drips from a spoon. Add 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard and 1 tablespoon minced fresh dill to hollandaise and pulse until combined but not smooth, about 10 pulses. Season with salt and extra cayenne to taste.
Transfer asparagus to serving dish and drizzle with hollandaise. Serve.