We enjoy asparagus in all forms: grilled, roasted, in soup, on a crudité platter with wasabi sour cream dip. When it’s in season, I can’t get enough of it, and I always welcome new ways to serve it and jazz up our usual routine. I’ve noticed a lot of recipes featuring shaved raw asparagus popping up all over the food world this spring – pizzas and salads mostly – so I thought it would be fun to try this salad one evening last week.
We both absolutely loved it. Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought the raw stalks might be too tough or bitter, but my roommate and I were both pleasantly surprised by how tender they were. The salad was nicely peppery – almost like arugula – and just so green tasting, like extra virgin olive oil straight from the press. And all of those lovely green ribbons looked so pretty as I arranged them on our plates!
I loved the addition of pine nuts. I always have some in my freezer because, well, I’m Italian and I never know when I’ll have to whip up a quick pesto! Toasting them is very important, so don’t you dare skip that step or you’ll really be missing out. The best thing about a salad like this is that you can really make it your own. For example, we had a ton of feta cheese and olives that needed to be used up, so I tossed some of those on for good measure. Then I turned to my favorite lemon and honey vinaigrette, which was perfect because it didn’t overpower the star ingredient like a balsamic dressing may have. You could use any other nuts and/or cheeses that you have on hand and it will surely be fabulous.
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted and cooled
1 pound asparagus, rinsed
1 to 2 ounces Feta cheese
1/4 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice with the honey, olive oil, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk well and set aside.
Toast pine nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350° for 5 to 10 minutes. I do this in my toaster oven. Keep an eye on them, because they will burn easily!
Working with one stalk of asparagus at a time, lay each one on its side on a cutting board. Holding onto the toug, wide end, use a vegetable peeler to shave off thin asparagus ribbons from stalk to tip, peeling away from the tough, end in your hand. Discard the tough ends once you’re done peeling. Gently pile your ribbons on serving plates and sprinkle with pine nuts, crumbled feta cheese, and olives. Dress as desired with vinaigrette, season to taste with salt and pepper, and enjoy!