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Asparagus Salad

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Raw asparagus salad

They’re in! The best bit of news I’ve had all week was a tweet from my local farm shop that their fresh asparagus are in. They grow them a stone’s throw from the shop and as we know, the more local the better. They pick them every morning and of course everything goes during the day so never any tired, wilted, squidgy stems on sale. And they are CHEAP – a huge bundle over a pound in weight costs is half the supermarket price.

Every May and June I dramatically cut down on the variety of my veg intake. I can eat asparagus with every meal and snack on them in between (could snack on worse, eh?). Soup, pasta, tartelets, stir-fries – but the best is simplicity, if you’re lucky to get a spanking fresh bundle, don’t mutilate it. After all, Emperor Augustus deemed quick action ‘faster than cooking asparagus’.

Famously, they have the ‘asparagus urine’ effect.  I actually love the smell they give to your pee although apparently, not everyone gets this side effect and not many find the aroma agreeable. Each to their own. Marcel Proust loved it. I love it. Enough already?

A powerhouse of nutrients so don’t spoil them - just toss them in butter, steam and dress with mayo or hollandaise, use as soldiers with your boiled egg – or have them raw, like this. Thinner, younger spears will work better if you've never had asparagus raw.

This is a simple salad and of course you can choose not to bother with the peeling, but it makes for a good contrast of textures. The dressing marinates the asparagus a bit and the Parmesan complements them nicely. As fresh green shoots as you can get – and it’s spring by the mouthful!

  • INGREDIENTS
  • 8-10 asparagus spears, not too thick (for 2 people, as starter)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • a handful of freshly shaved Parmesan
  • 2-3 white chicory leaves or a few rocket leaves (optional)

Asparagus

METHOD
Break off the woody ends of the asparagus, rinse and dry them. With a vegetable peeler, shave off the dark outside skin, starting just below the tips, put aside. Chop the peeled stems across into 1cm rounds, keep the tips whole.

Chopped asparagus salad

Whisk the lemon juice with the olive oil for dressing, finely shred the chicory and tear the rocket leaves, if using. Place them in a bowl with the chopped asparagus, the tips and the peelings, season with salt, pepper and half the dressing and toss together. Top with the shaved Parmesan and finish off with remaining dressing.

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