We have an abundance of asparagus in the market now, and one should take advantage of it! There are many ways to prepare the elegant emerald spears, grilling is great, roasting is terrific, and steaming is just dandy.
But it is hot outside, and I don’t want to heat up the kitchen anymore that I have to.
So I have fallen in love with Shaved Asparagus Salad! The raw asparagus is refreshing and tender, perfect for a first course or side dish, for family or for entertaining.
First of all, select the best asparagus at your greengrocer. If they arrive in a bundle, secured by a rubber band, be certain to check the individual stalks and pull out any that are not perfect. If the bottoms are soggy - do not buy them, if they appear woody - do not buy them, if the tips are opened or damaged - do not by them.
An important component of this recipe is Parmesan cheese, and please do not use the stuff in the plastic bottle from the shelf in next to the pasta. No. Make your way over to the cheesemonger and find Parmigiano-Reggiano.
You will notice that there is a price difference, but you do not need a whole wheel of it, more like ¼ of a pound or so. Parmigiano-Reggiano is recognizable by its exterior rind, deeper in yellow than the actual cheese, and marked with its name. It is named after the producing areas, which comprise the provinces of Parma, Reggio Emilia, in Northen Italy. Cheese made outside of this area may be called Parmesan, but they are not held to the strict standards and consistency of the original.
I like using the same vegetable peeler that was used on the asparagus to shave several nice curls of the Parmigiano-Reggiano to top the salad and then use a microplane to grate the remainder. (a microplane is a great tool for the kitchen, use it for zesting, grating garlic or ginger, nutmeg…)
Shaved Asparagus Salad
12 large asparagus spears (about 1 lb.), trimmed and peeled
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano plus about 12-15 nice shavings
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Working with 1 asparagus spear at a time, use a vegetable peeler to shave spears into long, thin shavings.
Transfer to a medium bowl (the tips will snap off as spears get thinner; add to bowl).
Combine grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and lemon juice in a small bowl and slowly whisk in oil until well blended.
Season vinaigrette generously with salt and pepper.
Drizzle vinaigrette over shaved asparagus and toss to coat. Divide asparagus salad among plates.
Top each serving with 3-5 shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano.