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Chef Matt Brown Makes Espàrragos Blancos | Video

Chef Matt Brown of La Bodega by Cúrate in Asheville makes veduras (Spanish vegetables)

This vegetable dish by chef Matt Brown was an immediate favorite at La Bodega by Cúrate, located in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Making use of both fresh vegetables, like artichokes and mushrooms, and preserved vegetables imported from Spain, it’s a great representation of the menu at La Bodega, which features tapas-style sharing plates alongside meaty sandwiches and smoky pork belly, grilled octopus, and punchy peppers.

Here, Brown creates a simple, velvety sauce using a traditional Spanish ingredient, espárragos blancos (or white asparagus), and pairs it with seasonal vegetables for an incredibly tasty dish. The Spanish specialty items in the recipe (pimenton, Marcona almonds, espárragos blancos) are available for purchase at La Bodega’s downstairs market. If you’re not in Asheville, however, olive oil, almonds, and white asparagus can all be found at 

Spoon white asparagus sauce over veduras, or Spanish vegetables, the most popular item at La Bodega by Cúrate

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2 servings

    For the white asparagus sauce:
  • 1 390-gram tin preserved white asparagus, undrained
  • ¼ cup peeled Marcona almonds
  • ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon juice, honey, or salt (optional) for seasoning
  • For the mojo verde:
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, leaves and stems separated
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • For the Marcona almond crumble:
  • ¼ cup peeled Marcona almonds, chopped
  • ½ teaspoon pimenton
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • For the vegetables:
  • 2 leeks
  • 4 garlic cloves, 2 thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 lemons
  • 2 globe artichokes
  • 3 small clusters oyster mushrooms
  • Lemon juice to taste for seasoning

Make the white asparagus sauce:

Place asparagus with brine in a blender and puree on high. Slowly add Marcona almonds a few at a time, and blend until smooth. Stream in olive oil and taste for seasoning.

Make the mojo verde:

Combine cilantro leaves and olive oil in a blender. Blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes. Strain out any remaining herb pulp. Cool oil in a bowl set within another bowl filled with ice water. Finely mince cilantro stems and garlic cloves and fold into cilantro oil. Stir in salt to combine. 

Make the Marcona almond crumble:

Combine chopped almonds, pimenton, and salt. Set aside. 

Prepare the vegetables:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Cut white and light-green parts of leeks into ½-inch rounds. Submerge leek rings in water to purge sand for 5 to 10 minutes. Place leeks in a baking dish with garlic cloves, thyme, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Bake until tender and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. 
  3. Fill a 2-quart pot with water and add 2 teaspoons of salt. Cut lemons in half and squeeze juice into water. Add squeezed lemon halves to water and bring to a boil.
  4. Meanwhile, clean artichokes: Remove tops and tough outer leaves and cut each artichoke about ⅔ of the way down to expose inner choke. Use a paring knife or vegetable peeler to trim fibrous exterior, leaving stem intact. Quarter artichoke and use a spoon to scoop out flowery inner choke. 
  5. Add artichokes to boiling lemon water. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate. 
  6. Clean mushrooms, remove base stems, and separate clusters of mushrooms in bite-size pieces.
  7. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat until oil shimmers. Add mushrooms and artichoke quarters and cook until they begin to caramelize. Add cooked leeks and sliced garlic. Warm leeks through, and simmer garlic without letting it brown too much. Season vegetables with salt and more squeezed lemon juice. Transfer to a pan lined with a paper towel to drain. 
  8. Slightly warm asparagus sauce over low heat in a pan or a microwave for about 30 seconds. 
  9. Divide vegetables between two bowls. Spoon white asparagus sauce on top so that vegetables are mostly covered. Garnish with dots of mojo verde and a few spoonfuls of mojo verde oil, as well as almond crumble. 

Video by: Evan Anderson

Edits by: Andrew Anderson films

Production by: Maggie Ward

Location: Elevation Lofts

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Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen

Author: Katie Button, Genevieve KoThe vibrant flavors of Spain brought into the American home kitchen by a young lauded chef and founder of one of America's most acclaimed new restaurants Katie Button debuts her first cookbook ever as a peek inside the kitchen of her award-winning restaurant, C rate. This cookbook features 125 recipes celebrating the vibrant flavors and broad appeal of Spanish food. Button brings the cuisine at C rate into the kitchen of every home cook, showing readers how to re-create classic Spanish dishes and adapt them using American seasonal ingredients. From cherished traditions (Tortilla Espa ola; Chicken Paella) to mouthwatering new favorites (Ham and Cheese Stuffed Fried Pork Chops; Ribeye Steak with Blue Cheese Sauce) to celebratory drinks and desserts (The Perfect Gin and Tonic; Almond Cake with Cream Sherry and Brandy), C rate brings Spain to you.About the AuthorKatie Button is one of the new stars of the global food world–a finalist for James Beard's 2014 Rising Star Chef Award and for Food & Wine People's Choice Best New Chef. In 2008, she left a promising career as a neuroscientist to apply her creativity and precision in professional kitchens. She was the first American to wait tables at the Michelin 3-star restaurant El Bulli in Spain, and was later offered a coveted internship under the restaurant's acclaimed chef Ferran Adria. Now just thirty-two years old, she has two of her own restaurants: Cúrate, an award-winning Spanish tapas bar in Asheville, North Carolina; and Nightbell, a lounge with a Barcelona-meets-American-South feel. Genevieve Ko is an author (Better Baking), food writer, recipe developer, and culinary consultant who creates and collaborates on cookbooks, magazine and digital stories, and epicurean corporate branding. She has worked with famous chefs including Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Sarabeth Levine, George Mendes, Kenny Lao, and Carla Hall.

Olive Oil

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

The first product in Jack Rudy’s Perfect Pantry collection, this fruity and versatile olive oil can be used for grilling, sauteing, salad dressings, or as a finishing oil.


Feridies Salted Almonds 9oz

9oz OU Kosher Certified Non-GMO Project Verified Almonds are one of the most nutrient dense tree nuts and are considered to be one of the world's healthiest specialty crops. Feridies source their jumbo almonds from the Mediterranean-like climates of central California where they shell the almonds, roast them with their skin in-tact and give them a light dusting of salt to produce this delicious snack that’s high in antioxidants and vitamin E.

  • Recipe By
    Matt Brown of La Bodega in Asheville, North Carolina
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