It’s asparagus season here in Tennessee and I can’t resist buying it when I see it at the farmers market. Really fresh asparagus is so good and rather sweet. I bought some purple asparagus last week and turned to the googles and the twitters for the best way to do it justice. They told me asparagus salad. Common sense told me to check 101 Cookbooks. I have never been disappointed in one of Heidi’s recipes. Bonus: they’re often very easy to make. And lookie here: an asparagus salad recipe.
Looks delicious, doesn’t it? I read through it and made a few notes because (and I’m kicking myself), I didn’t buy the French breakfast radishes at the market and I’ve been out of pine nuts for about two months. I did have just about everything else, so here’s the modified recipe that still turned out (in my opinion) exceptionally well. The major substitutions were:
radishes -> fresh ground pepper
pine nuts -> blanched slivered almonds
sauteed asparagus/broccoli -> roasted asparagus and broccoli
I also sauteed the shallot to take the bite out of it because I served it over a bed of Bibb lettuce. And this dressing? Sounds weird and doesn’t taste great on its own, but when it hits the broccoli and asparagus, it works. Really. When served over the lettuce, it made a nice entree. We also had some crusty French bread smeared with ginger persimmon jam from Perl Catering (also picked up at the West Nashville Farmers Market). They have a limited quantity of this jam, so if you see it, buy it!
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
10-12 spears of thick asparagus
1 cup broccolini (or broccoli) florets, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small shallot, chopped
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
big pinch of salt
fresh ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
Roast the broccoli at 400F until it starts to brown. Remove from the pan and place in a large bowl. Then roast the asparagus for 3-4 minutes until tender, but al dente. Remove the asparagus and cut on the bias in 1/2 inch pieces. Place in the bowl with the broccoli.
Saute the chopped shallot in just bit of oil until transluscent. Transfer to a small bowl to make the dressing. Stir in the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and mix well.
Place the almonds in the pan used for the shallots and toast slightly over medium-high heat and then add to the bowl of asparagus. Toss all with about 1/3 to 1/2 of the dressing and the lemon zest. Serve as a side dish or add the remaining dressing to greens and serve as a salad. Finish with shaved Parmesan.