The two following recipes are not for the faint of heart but if you really want to impress at a dinner party use them. To be honest, they are very easy -especially the last one!! ... and soooo very yummy!
Asparagus with Hazelnuts and Tarragon Vinaigrette
1 pound fresh, trimmed asparagus, ¼ cup minced shallots, 3 Tbs. tarragon-flavored white wine vinegar, 4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon (or 1¼ tsps. dried), 1 tsp. Dijon mustard. 7 Tbs. hazelnut, walnut or olive oil, 4 cups baby lettuces or inner leaves of curly endive, ¼ cup hazelnuts, toasted, husked and coarsely chopped.
Steam asparagus till crisp-tender (or boil as above in deep-sided skillet), about 3-5 minutes. Transfer asparagus to a bowl of ice water and cool. Drain. Place asparagus on paper towels. Combine shallots, vinegar, tarragon and mustard in a bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Place the lettuces or endive on a large platter. Arrange the asparagus on top. Drizzle with the vinaigrette, then sprinkle with hazelnuts. Serves 4.
Roasted Asparagus with Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tbs. olive oil, 1 ½ lbs. slender asparagus, trimmed, 3 Tbs. balsamic vinegar, Salt & pepper, ¼ cup ( ½ to 1 oz.) Parmesan cheese curls
Place a 10-in. ovenproof frying pan in a 500° oven for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and swirl oil in pan. With tongs, roll asparagus in oil. Bake asparagus till tender-crisp to bite, 5-10 minutes. Drizzle with vinegar; add salt and pepper to taste. Scatter Parmesan cheese curls on top.