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 curateathome.com
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
1 bunch cilantro, washed, leaves and stems separated
½ cup olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup peeled Marcona almonds, chopped
½ teaspoon pimenton
½ teaspoon salt
4 garlic cloves, 2 thinly sliced
2 to 3 thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons plus 3 teaspoons salt, divided
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 globe artichokes
3 small clusters oyster mushrooms
Lemon juice to taste for seasoning
For the white asparagus sauce:
For the mojo verde:
For the Marcona almond crumble:
For the vegetables:
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:
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Clean mushrooms, remove base stems, and separate clusters of mushrooms in bite-size pieces.
- 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.
- Slightly warm asparagus sauce over low heat in a pan or a microwave for about 30 seconds.
- 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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Recipe ByMatt Brown of La Bodega in Asheville, North Carolina