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white asparagus in saffron cream sauce with dill and peppercorn

White Asparagus with Saffron Cream Sauce

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  • Author: Sydney Isaacs
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 2 servings 1x
  • Category: Vegetables
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: French
  • Diet: Vegetarian


Steamed white asparagus served with a saffron sauce made from creme fraiche, shallots, garlic, white wine, and a gentle kick from cayenne. Garnished with dill and pink peppercorns, this seasonal spring dish finds its perfect wine pair in a ultra-chilled glass of Riesling from Alsace. 



Saffron Cream Sauce

  • 0.125 gram saffron, powdered
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) butter
  • 1 small to medium shallot, finely diced
  • 12 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 milliliters) white wine (Riesling, to pair)
  • 1/3 cup (74 grams) crème fraîche
  • 1/2 tablespoon (5 grams) freshly grated Parmeson cheese
  • 1 teaspoon (12 grams) powdered cayenne pepper, adjust to your tolerance and preference 
  • Salt, to taste
  • Garnish: Whole pink peppercorns, fresh dill

White Asparagus

  • 57 stalks of white asparagus per person (depending on size)
  • Salt, for  seasoning water for steaming


Saffron Cream Sauce

  1. “Bloom” the saffron in water to extract flavor and color. I prefer this by putting the powdered saffron in a small dish with an ice cube. Once the ice has melted and the saffron has had time to bloom (roughly 10-20 minutes), it is ready. 
  2. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Once fully melted, add the finely chopped shallot. Allow it to cook for 2 minutes and add in the minced garlic, allowing it to cook for just another minute.
  4. Add the crème fraîche, white wine, and bloomed saffron water. Let it come to a boil and immediately reduce to a simmer. 
  5. Season with salt and cayenne, to your preference. Taste as you go and add more if needed.
  6. Add in the grated Parmesan cheese. Stir regularly to make sure the cheese melts thoroughly and to maintain consistency. Allow the sauce to reduce and thicken for roughly 10-15 minutes.
  7. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow it to cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes or until thickened. You’ll want the consistency to resemble a hollandaise sauce; not too watery but not thick like mayo either. If needed, let the sauce stand at room temperature after chilling if it becomes too cold and thickens too much. 

White Asparagus

  1. Peel the outer layer of the asparagus with peeler and break off the tough ends of the stalk. This prep step is essential for white asparagus as the outer layer can be very fibrous. 

To cook by steaming:

  1. Bring a pot of salted water to boil.
  2. Add in the stalks of asparagus and let them cooking for 5-8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the stalks. They should be tender but not soggy. 
  3. Drain the water and set aside for plating.


  1. Spoon some of the saffron sauce onto a dish.
  2. Gently place the white asparagus on to top of the sauce.
  3. Spoon more saffron sauce over the plated asparagus.
  4. Garnish with whole pink peppercorns, fresh chives, and chopped nuts for a bit of crunch. Feel free to experiment with different herbs and nuts. For example, dill could be a great alternative to chives here.
  5. Serve alongside a glass of Riesling from Alsace.


Wine Pairing

Dry Riesling from Alsace France, served chilled