Old-Fashioned Asparagus with Orange Sauce

Asparagus with Orange Sauce
I was surprised to recently discover a hundred-year-old recipe for Asparagus with Orange Sauce that called for blood orange. I don’t think that I’ve ever previously seen a recipe for blood orange. The recipe turned out nicely. The sauce had a lovely sunny citrus flavor that nicely complemented the asparagus.

Asparagus with Orange Sauce
Source: American Cookery (April, 1922)
Recipe for Asparagus with Orange Sauce
Source: American Cookery (April, 1922)

Until I read this old recipe, I had never realized that blood oranges were considered a spring citrus fruit a hundred years ago.

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

Asparagus with Orange Sauce

  • Servings: 4 - 5
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Here’s the recipe updated for modern cooks:

1 bunch asparagus (about 1 1/2 to 2 pounds)

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon paprika

grated rind of 1/2 blood orange

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons lemon juicee

Juice of 1/2 blood orange

3 egg yolks

1/2 cup butter, softened

`Wash and trim asparagus. Put in steamer pan. Add water to bottom, and steam for about 5 minutes or until tender.

In the meantime to make the sauce, combine paprika, salt, grated orange rind, lemon juice, and water in a pan.  Bring to a boil using medium heat, boil for several minutes until the volume is reduced by half.  Remove from heat.

In a separate pan beat butter until creamy, then add to the grated orange rind and lemon mixture. Next add the egg yolks, one at a time, while beating into the mixture. Set pan with mixture into a pan with hot water. Continue stirring until the mixture thickens, then stir in the juice from the blood orange. To heat, put on medium heat for a few seconds while continuing to stir. Remove from heat and serve over the asparagus.


27 thoughts on “Old-Fashioned Asparagus with Orange Sauce

    1. Thanks for the info about the season for blood oranges. Until I did this post, I never thought about it, but I had no idea that the blood orange season might be longer or skewed later than for other oranges.

  1. Yum! And we’re having asparagus today. Darn, I could have used this. It sounds delicious. But I’m not going to run around now in search of a blood orange. It will have to wait for another time lol

  2. The sad thing is that we used to have a much greater variety of produce a hundred years ago. So much that is grown now has been selected for long shipping to everywhere, and that cuts down on most of the best varieties of everything from corn to tomatoes and everything in between.

    1. I’ve also noticed this – even just in the last 10 or 20 years, it seems like the variety of produce has really decreased. Some fruits and vegetables that I used to regularly buy, I can seldon find anymore. Endive comes ot mind as an example of something I haven’t seen in the stores where I shop in recent years. Stores have beautiful produce displays, yet there is little variety.

        1. It feels a little sad that we seldom get the opportunity to experience the many nuanced flavors and texutres of most of those apple varieties.

  3. Hehe! No thanks – I’m not a lover of asparagus nor of oranges. Putting the two together is a double no from me but I suspect my husband would like it….

  4. Blood orange.. that’s a new one for me. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten one or seen one. The orange dressing looks good in a photo not sure about it in my mouth though… I’ll just make it simple and eat the asparagus as is and the orange for dessert.😉

    1. Blood oranges are a fairly recent addition to the produce section at the stores where I shop – which is why I was so surprised to come across a hundred-year-old recipe that called for them. They have a nice taste. They are pretty similar to regular oranges, but maybe are a bit less tangy.

    1. Occasionally – A post that I did about a hundred-year-old recipe for White Bread has been one of my more popular posts. I know that there are some readers who have really liked that recipe and made it multiple times.

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