Asparagus with Olive Oil and Queso Ibérico
Adapted from Olives & Oranges: Recipes & Flavor Secrets from Italy, Spain, Cyprus & Beyond (with Mindy Fox)
Young, fresh, soft sheep's-milk cheeses—such as Queso Iberico, Manchego, and Pecorino Toscano—marry beautifully with the grassy spring flavor of asparagus. Young cheeses are preferable here to aged, which are firmer and more intense in flavor. Since this dish is so simple, the quality of the ingredients is all-important. Buy fresh local asparagus and cook it as soon as possible for best flavor.
- 1 pound asparagus, tough ends snapped off
- Fleur de sel or other medium-coarse sea salt
- About 4 ounces Queso Iberico or other young sheep's-milk cheese
- 1 lemon
- Coarsely ground black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Add asparagus, cover, and cook until tender, 3 to 4 minutes. (If you have spears of varying thickness, pull the skinny ones out earlier than the others.) Drain, transfer to a large serving plate (or 4 smaller plates), and sprinkle with fleur de sel.
Using a cheese slicer or Y-shaped vegetable peeler, immediately shave enough cheese over the hot asparagus to mostly cover it. Grate over about 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest, season with pepper, and drizzle with oil. Serve at once.