Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ribboned Asparagus Salad with Lemon

In celebration of my summer co-op placement acceptance, my mom took me grocery shopping at the nearby supermarket. This probably sounds more like a chore than a treat to most people, but I love going grocery shopping with my parents, especially my mom. It means that I get to help choose what we’re having for dinner. It also means that I can help my mom buy things that I actually want to eat—I’m a little bit of a picky eater.

I wandered the supermarket, taking in the plethora of different colours of the produce aisle. My eyes landed on the columns of green asparagus and I had a sudden flash of inspiration. A couple days ago, I had come across a recipe for ribboned asparagus with lemon. The salad intrigued me; I had never tried eating asparagus raw.

I picked up a couple pounds of asparagus, a block of my favourite hard cheese, Parmigiano Reggiano, and headed home, hoping that the lemon I remembered seeing tucked into the far corner of the fridge was not yet rotten. As luck would have it, the lemon was fine to use, so I attempted to recreate the asparagus salad with a few changes of my own.

I used Parmigiano Reggiano instead of parmesan, lemon zest, as well as juice, and omitted the pine nuts and almonds. The result: a salad that is as light and fresh as it looks to be. The raw asparagus had a pleasingly different taste and texture from the cooked version. The asparagus flavour was more pronounced and the texture was decidedly crisper. The lemon brightened the different elements of the salad while the shaved cheese added some richness and nuttiness. A liberal grind of black pepper tied all the flavours together to complete the palette of the salad.

Click below for the recipe. 

Ribboned Asparagus with Lemon

Adapted from: Smitten Kitchen

As Deb of Smitten Kitchen (I love how I'm saying this as htough we're pals) said, there isn't really a recipe for this salad; it's more of a guideline of flavors. A little less or a little more of a certain ingredient isn't going to ruin the recipe, so feel free to add more of what you like.

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted* and cooled (I omitted the nuts as I have a mild allergy)
  • 1 pound asparagus, rinsed and dried
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Olive oil
  • Coarse salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 to 3 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano


Cut the tips off of your asparagus; those won’t peel well. The tips can be eaten as is, or tossed into the salad afterwards.

Holding the asparagus from the tough end that you would normally cut off, begin making long strips with a vegetable peeler. I found that turning the asparagus spear after a few peels was the best method to obtain the most asparagus ribbons; the sides of my peeler extend past the blade so it was impossible to peel the asparagus spears once they became too thin. Place all the ribboned asparagus in a medium serving bowl.Sprinkle in the toasted nuts.

Using another peeler (or just wash and dry the one you just used for the asparagus), shave some cheese into the bowl. Drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil and the juice of half the lemon over top the salad. Season the asparagus with a small pinch of salt and a couple grinds of black pepper and toss to coat. Garnish with freshly grated lemon zest, a few more Parmigiano Reggiano shavings, and some freshly ground black pepper.

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