Asparagus Sauce

I include this sauce here not only because it is delicious, but also because it represents the family of fresh herb and vegetable sauces which, to stay brightly colored and taste fresh and wonderful, face the challenge of preserving these qualities in the cooking process. I use it on vegetables, poached fish or chicken, pasta, and eggs.

I am assuming that the tips (upper 2 to 3 inches) of the asparagus are used for another dish or to garnish whatever this sauce goes on, so they would be boiled in salted water until tender (five to eight minutes), and then tossed in butter or extra virgin olive oil.


  • 1 pound asparagus, green stems only, cut in 1-inch pieces
  • 1 sprig tarragon
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, cut in 1-tablespoon pieces and chilled
  • Salt
  • freshly ground white peppercorns


Prepare an ice bath and place a metal bowl in it.

Cook the asparagus pieces in 3 quarts of rapidly boiling salted water. Drain the asparagus when they are tender enough to puree, 5 to 10 minutes depending on the thickness of the pieces.

Puree them in a food processor, and immediately pour the puree into the bowl sitting in the ice bath. Stir the puree until it is completely cold and then put it through a sieve.

To finish the sauce, heat the puree with the tarragon sprig. Whisk in the butter one piece at a time until all of it is melted. Remove the tarragon, season, and serve immediately.