The key to preserving asparagus's flavor, texture, and color is blanching: a brief submersion first into boiling water and then into an ice bath.
Servings: Makes 20 servings
Ingredients 4 bunches pencil asparagus (or smallest available), trimmed of woody bottom stalks1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil4 ounces prosciutto di Parma , sliced thinly at the deli counter1 bunch red radishes , cut into thin matchsticksKosher salt and black pepper
Fill a stockpot with water and 1 cup salt per gallon. Bring water to a boil. Meanwhile, create an ice bath by filling a large bowl with two parts ice cubes to one part cold water.
Add 4 to 6 stalks of asparagus at a time to the pot, keeping water at a boil. After 1 minute, remove the asparagus and place in ice bath. When cool, remove from water and drain. Repeat step 2 until all asparagus has been blanched.
Mix asparagus with pepper and 1/8 cup of oil, then place on a platter, surround with prosciutto, and top with radishes. Drizzle dish with remaining oil, add salt and pepper to taste, and serve.