21 May 2010
Asparagus Salad, a la naturelle
I know wild asparagus foraging time is long past by now for most of you, but we are seeing the last of the tender stalks in the market these days and after having bought an extraordinary amount of the big fat stemmed variety the other day I tried them a new way; raw as a salad. We have have such a range of varieties this year, and it still is a bit of a luxury item, but so wonderful and such a short lived season that hey, you gotta splash out every once in a while. If you can find some very fresh meaty stemmed stalks, do try slicing them razor thin on a mandolin or slaw cutter, toss with your favorite vinaigrette and serve as a refreshing side salad. It pairs up nicely with poached salmon or saltimboca that we like to make with turkey cutlets. You will find a light spring meal that works well on a brunch buffet also. If you can't find the thick ones try another easy asparagus antipasto idea here that I have made with a piece of puff pastry, some gorgonzola and asparagus, baked to crispy deliciousness. Just don't let asparagus season bypass you.
for 2 recipe, easily increased
1/2 lb (250g) fresh fat stalks asparagus
Fresh herbs, like basil, dill, chervil, tarragon chives
Olive oil, extra virgin
vinegar of choice, apple, red wine, tarragon, etc
salt and pepper
Wash and dry your stalks
Trim the tough bottoms off leaving plenty of stem
With a vegetable peeler clean the bottom 1/3 of the stems to remove the tough outer skin.
My stalks were quite long so I cut them in half before slicing
Take 3 stalks and slice thing on your vegetable slicer
I think you won't get them thin enough slicing by hand and that is really the key to this flavorful salad
Set aside while you make your vinaigrette
I am not big on measuring for vinegrettes and usually keep doctoring till I reach my desired flavor
You want to have between 1/3 to half cup of dressing, dressing to taste.
I use the standard proportion of 1 part vinegar to 3 parts oil.
I find that it can be a bit tart, so I often add an additional tablespoon or so of balsamic to add a bit of sweetness. You can use just straight balsamic, but I often find that a tad too sweet, so I often use a combination of both vinegars to make a nice balance for the salad. If you want it more sweet, use more balsamic, more tart, apple or red wine vinegar. If you don't have balsamic but want it a bit sweeter, try a dash of brown sugar, but not too much.
As far as herbs, I would say keep to perhaps just one fresh herb as the flavor of the asparagus could easily be overwhelmed with herbs and you really want to enhance it flavor not drown it out. The only exception might be to use chives with one other herb and I think you will find a nice balance.
Use 2 Tb of the fresh herbs. Dried herbs can be substituted, but use much less as they are concentrated flavor and quite different from the fresh herb.
Pour the vinaigrette over the sliced asparagus, let stand at least 15 minutes at room temperature before serving, making sure to toss just before serving and adjusting your seasoning if necessary.
I told Davide, whose family farm over in Scalenghe produced these delectable treats, that I had written a post featuring his fat boy asparagus. He was so happy that I thought I would put a photo of his spears in this post. This was what was left over at the end of a busy Saturday market.