20 April 2007
Shaved Asparagus Salad
It's spring and asparagus season is in full swing. I'm pleased to report asparagus has been gracing our table almost every night for the past couple weeks, primarily simply roasted with a bit of garlic and salt, a form which has become practically an addiction for us. The other night, as I hungrily waited for dinner to be ready, I found myself munching on some raw asparagus tips that were lying on the counter. Now, I generally liked my vegetables cooked (I had a friend once that liked to nibble on raw potatoes, which is just weird) but these asparagus were delightfully crunchy and full of flavor. It got raw asparagus on my mind, and when I came across a recipe for a shaved asparagus salad, I knew I had to try it.
Crunchy and brightly flavorful, the shaved asparagus is twirled with chunks of orange and toasted hazelnuts. I completely forgot the cheese in the picture, but please remember it because it adds a nice soft salty note. The original recipe directions called for the asparagus tips as well, but I set them aside and later cooked them with some lemon-pepper fettucine, so we had two asparagus dishes for dinner, each very different. I think it's a good use for asparagus stalks, often over-looked for their feathery tips, and generally a good new thing to try in the height of the season.
Shaved Asparagus Salad with Orange and Pecorino
Shaved asparagus has a wonderful crunchy, fresh taste. I like to reserve the tips for another dish, but you could also blanch them briefly in some boiling water and add them to the salad. Inspired by Food and WIne.
1 navel orange
1 large bunch of thick asparagus, bottoms trimmed and tips removed
One 1 1/2-ounce piece of Pecorino Romano cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1/4 cup hazelnut oil or extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground white pepper
2 tablespoons toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
1. Working over a bowl, peel the orange and cut between the membrane to separate the segments. Set the segments aside, leave the juice in the bowl. Zest a bit of the peel into the bowl, discard the remaining peel. Whisk in the vinegar and oil with the orange juice and season with a touch of salt and pepper.
2. Using a mandoline or a sturdy vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus lengthwise into the bowl. Toss the asparagus with the dressing and let sit for about five minutes to soften.
3. Shave the Pecorino Romano cheese into the bowl. Add the orange sections to the asparagus. Mound the salad on a large platter, garnish with the hazelnuts and serve.