I initially published this about a year ago, from Paris, where asparagus was on abundant display at every market. At Union Square the other day I was happy to see that the tri-state crop had finally come in, and I thought I’d revisit the idea of asperges crues.
For your sake, dear reader, I’ve edited the post to include general amounts where before there were none. But still, it’s barely a recipe, this recipe for raw asparagus salad.
For dinner last night, and lunch again today, I snapped off and discarded the woody ends, cut off the tender tips, and carefully shaved the stalks into pale green ribbons. I tossed the resulting confetti with the old reliables — salt, pepper, lemon juice and olive oil — and let it sit while I spread a toasted slice of baguette with fresh robiola. I carefully peeled some Spanish ham from its paper wrapping where it was laid out, rosy cross sections of the Iberian countryside, and piled a few slices on my plate. I served myself some salad, turned the volume up on Rufus, grabbed a book and pulled up a chair.
After a year (and what a year it has been), I’m pleased to say that it has held up just fine, this raw asparagus non-recipe.
I cannot say the same about myself. My salad days are over, it seems.
It’s about time.
Raw Asparagus Salad
1 pound asparagus
1/4 to 1/2 t salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1-2 t lemon juice or white wine vinegar
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
1. Wash the asparagus. Snap off and discard the woody ends of the spears.
2. Cut off the tips of the asparagus. With a sharp vegetable peeler, shave the stalks into thin ribbons. Alternately, slice the stalks on the diagonal, as thinly as you possibly can. Which ever method you choose, be careful.
3. Toss the the tips and sliced stalks of the asparagus with a 1/4 t of salt, and the rest of the ingredients. Let it sit for a few minutes, so that some of the liquid is rendered from the asparagus and it softens slightly.
4. Taste the salad and adjust if necessary: Does it need more zip? Add lemon juice and pepper. Is it bland? Add salt.
5. Serve immediately or store in the refridgerator until ready to serve. It will get softer as it sits, so don’t make it more than a few hours ahead.
Variations: Parmesan or pecorino cheese is a delicious, I repeat, delicious addition to this salad. Use as little or as much as you like, keeping in mind that you won’t need as much salt. Add finely grated cheese at the last minute, or garnish with large shavings of Parmesan. Crumbled goat cheese or feta would be tasty, too. Toasted walnuts, almonds or pinenuts would be good, as would a little drizzle of walnut oil. Freshly chopped parsley or chervil would be nice. A little bit of thinly sliced red onion or shallot would add some sharpness. Shaved radish would add a peppery bite and a dash of color. Serve the salad as a salad course or as a side dish. Use it as a topping for brushetta. Stir it into couscous that’s been cooked and cooled. Spread a slice of good toasted bread with goat cheese and pile it on.