Asparagus with Vanilla Balsamic

As I mentioned in my blogiversary post, I was thrilled last week when the folks at Nielsen-Massey offered to send me a few of their vanilla products to try. The first thing I made was this AMAZING Vanilla Peach Cake. Seriously delicious – you MUST make it at least once! And when you do, it will become a most-requested favorite.

But I was also eager to try one of the savory recipes they included in the package: Nielsen-Massey Green Beans with Vanilla Balsamic. The recipe suggested substituting asparagus for green beans, which I thought would give it an extra Spring-like touch. The original recipe also included onion and red pepper, and while I’m sure they would’ve been fantastic I was in the mood for something a bit more simple.

This recipe was another winner! The asparagus with the dressing were fantastic hot and cold (I enjoyed the leftovers cold – trust me, it works), and it was incredibly simple to make.

The Nielsen-Massey recipe calls for using a good-quality balsamic vinegar and I couldn’t agree more. As you probably know by now, one of my favorite kitchen staples is an 18-year aged balsamic vinegar that is thick, rich and a little sweet. This is a must-have that I suggest everyone buy. Seriously, buy it.

(If you’re in Chicago you can do a one-two stop by going to Old Town Oil for the aged balsamic, then two doors down stop at The Spice House for Nielsen-Massey vanilla bean paste.)

Here’s the recipe for Asparagus with Vanilla Balsamic:

Asparagus with Vanilla Balsamic – serves 4 to 6, adapted from Nielsen-Massey

1 pound asparagus, ends trimmed

1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Pinch salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Also prepare an ice bath.

Submerge the asparagus stalks in the water and boil just until tender, about 90 seconds. Remove the stalks from the boiling water and plunge into the ice bath. Drain once cool.

(Blanching and shocking the asparagus cooks it to the desired level and allows the asparagus to retain its bright green color. If serving warm immediately, you can skip this step although it’s also fine to reheat the asparagus quickly in the microwave.)

In a small bowl, whisk together the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, vanilla bean paste and salt. Drizzle the mixture over the hot or cold asparagus.

  • Cathy – wheresmydamnanswer posted: 08 Apr at 8:34 pm

    This is such a great combination – I have a vanilla fig balsamic vinegarette that I toss with asparagus and it is amazing!! OMG adds such flavor!

  • Mel posted: 08 Apr at 11:47 pm

    Yum that sounds great! I love asparagus and often drizzle with an apple balsamic that is thick and sweet, and sometimes add a few toasted sliced almonds. But will try the vanilla balsamic version too – bet it’s good with broccolini too.

  • azelia posted: 09 Apr at 2:49 pm

    I’ve tried vanilla with fish so far in savoury recipe but wasn’t convinced…I can sort of see how it would work with balsamic…interesting idea!

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