Spring Asparagus & Kumquat Relish

Spring Asparagus & Kumquat Relish

This is one of my all-time favorite early Spring recipes. It is so bright, clean and colorful and pairs really well with grilled or seared chicken or halibut. This was a popular dish at Chez Panisse, and I've continued serving many variations for clients over the years. It's really fun to play around with this relish—adding chopped toasted almonds or hazelnuts adds a great crunch, and you can even swap out the kumquats for diced Meyer lemon (peel and all). 

Cook: 5 mins.

Prep: 10 mins.

Serves: 4



  • 1 lb asparagus, trimmed (the thickest you can find)
  • 6-8 kumquats, thinly sliced
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup packed Italian parsley leaves, picked of stems
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste


  1. Set a medium pot of water to boil. In a large bowl, make an ice bath with ice and cold water and leave it near the stove.
  2. In the meantime, add shallots and vinegar to a medium bowl. Let macerate for about 10 minutes. This takes the edge off of the shallots while flavoring the vinegar.
  3. Once water is boiling, season generously with salt. Blanch the asparagus for 30 seconds to 1 minute, until bright green and still firm (this is quick, so don't leave the stove!). Submerge asparagus in the ice bath to cool. (If you'd rather serve them warm and aren't too worried about how bright green they are, you can skip the ice bath alltogether.)
  4. While asparagus is cooling, add sliced kumquats, parsley and olive oil to the bowl with the shallots. Toss to mix and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Pat dry with a paper towel and top with generous spoonfuls salsa.

Make Ahead

Kept separately, this will keep for up to 3 days. I layer the salsa for clients so it stays super bright: start with the shallots and vinegar, then add the kumquats and oil, and top with parsley leaves. Drizzle the asparagus with a little olive oil to keep them from drying out. 

Tools & Tips

To trim thick asparagus, cut off the bottom inch or so then use a sharp peeler to remove the thicker skin on the lower half of the stalk. For thinner asparagus, just snap off the bottom inch or two of the stalk—it will break naturally where it's more tender.