Regular readers know that a certain 'veggie evangelist' is prone to rhapsodizing about vegetables. But -- oh my -- how did I ever miss raw asparagus?
The inspiration for raw asparagus came from the lovely food blog Kitchenography, who recently made a mâche salad with raw asparagus, pistachios and Parmesan (how great does that sound?!).
I didn't follow that recipe nor any other, but instead tossed together my own raw asparagus salad and then slipped it into arugula and mixed greens from the Maplewood farmers market. (Thank you, Schlaffly Beer, for hosting a mid-week market! For St. Louisans, it's held on Wednesdays, 4 - 7 pm at the Schlaffly microbrewery in downtown Maplewood.) But I'm ever grateful to Julie for turning me onto the idea of raw asparagus.
This raw asparagus salad is kid friendly! Here's my seven-year old neighbor learning to 'snap' asparagus like a pro. She then whisked the dressing, tasting each ingredient we added. When we sat down to taste, she declared our asparagus salad "good"!
GORGEOUS RAW ASPARAGUS SALAD
Time to table: 10 minutes
Salad greens for four
1 pound thin spears of fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons good olive oil (1 tablespoon if you're not dressing greens, too)
1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
Zest of a lemon, preferably in strips (vs fluffy stuff from a Microplane), reserving a few strips for garnish, if desired
Salt & pepper to taste
Wash and tear the greens. Spin dry (do you use a salad spinner? I love mine!) or tamp gently with paper towels. (Why do we want dry greens? So the dressing will adhere evenly.)
Wash the asparagus well, especially the tips where grit can accumulate. After washing, place on a double layer of paper towels to siphon off water. (This is so the oil/vinegar dressing can adhere.) Snap off the woody ends and discard. Line up the tips of as many asparagus as you can manage, cut off the tips. (Use these in the salad itself or save for something else where the tips are so coveted.) Cut the asparagus in tiny bits, maybe 1/8 or 1/4 inch lengths.
Whisk the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper, lemon zest (don't forget to reserve a few for garnish). Stir in the asparagus. Toss the asparagus with the greens. Serve immediately.
It's likely that an over-the-top-good raw asparagus salad is dependent on the right collection of ingredients: very fresh tiny-thin spears of asparagus, great olive oil, great balsamic vinegar. To my taste, as well, the lemon zest is essential.
The asparagus bits do tend to drop to the bottom of the salad bowl so if presentation is important, think about dressing the greens separately, arranging on plates and then topping each plate with the raw asparagus -- and a few strips of lemon zest, for extra prettiness!
UPDATE Try adding some sliced strawberries and going heavy on the pepper: double gorgeous!
~ Asparagus Tapenade ~
~ Roasted Asparagus with Feta ~
~ Farro with Asparagus & Green Onion Sauce ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from A Veggie Venture
~ Roasted Salmon & Asparagus ~
~ Easy to Elegant Asparagus Soup ~
~ Asparagus Whole Wheat Bread Pudding ~
~ more asparagus recipes ~
from Kitchen Parade