Here's a great appetizer for springtime entertaining. The bold, toasty sesame oil adds depth to the classic French garlic-lemon sauce. Arrange the crisp-tender asparagus spears, tips up, in a tall, clear glass, with the sesame sauce nearby, served in a radicchio leaf cup to add color.
16 medium-thick asparagus spears (about 12 ounces), trimmed to even lengths
Toasted Sesame Aioli
¼ cup mayonnaise1 tablespoon dark (Asian) sesame oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
½ teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1 clove garlic, minced
To complete the recipe
1 radicchio leaf, optional
Additional toasted sesame seeds for garnish
Steam the asparagus in a covered steamer over boiling water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Or, put the asparagus in a microwave-proof dish; add about 2 tablespoons water. Cover tightly and microwave on high for about 3 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain well. Rinse with cold water and drain again.
Meanwhile, make the aioli: Stir together all the aioli ingredients in a small bowl until smooth.
To serve, arrange the asparagus spears in a tall, clear glass container. Spoon the sauce into a radicchio leaf or small dish, garnish with sesame seeds, and place nearby for dipping.
The asparagus can be cooked up to 1 day in advance. The sauce will keep for up to 1 week in a covered container in the refrigerator. Bring both to room temperature for serving.