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Shaved asparagus salad

Sat, 27 April, 2024

If you have never had asparagus raw, you’re missing out on a treat. Thinly shaved, lightly marinated, dressed with creamy sauce, it’s beyond delicious.

shaved asparagus salad

Raw vs. cooked

When I was a kid, we believed that eating raw potato would rapidly raise your body temperature, thus convincing your parents you were too ill to go to school.

I know, these days it’s more difficult to get Mum and Dad to let you go in. But socio-cultural changes aside, it turns out we were not completely deluded, even though I’d never tried it myself.

Raw potatoes taste disgusting, but they are actually mildly poisonous, being members of the deadly nightshade plant family.

They are in the minority of plants inedible raw, cereals and grains aside. Apparently also aubergine is toxic if ingested raw in large quantities, as well as kidney beans and rhubarb leaves.

Luckily, they all taste rather vile so the temptation is easily curbed. But what about some vegetables that are not only safe to eat raw but actually delicious?

shaved raw asparagus salad with cream dressing

Raw can be better

No fear: I’m not going to jump on the paleo or raw diet bandwagon especially that it seems to be rather on the wane, trendwise. I’m only going to point out that carrots do not have to be boiled or beetroot roasted.

Both those root vegetables are excellent raw, grated or thinly sliced, with a tangy dressing.

Fennel is lovely cooked, but have you tried it shaved, with a ranch dressing? That’s something else. Freshly picked and shelled peas are fabulously sweet. Boring old courgette will taste different when shaved into ribbons and lightly marinated. And broccoli salad with Asian dressing is so addictive it’s nicknamed ‘crack salad’ in my house.

Leeks can be made into slaw as can kohlrabi. Shaved Brussels sprouts might attract sworn sprout objectors, and spring cabbage is honestly too tasty to cook it.

And finally, asparagus. I kid you not: this salad is a game-changer.

salad of raw asparagus strips with cream sauce and toasted seeds

What’s in a salad?

‘Salad’ is a confusing term anyway. It’s so wide encompassing, you can hide any mix of ingredients behind it. There is no distinction between a bowl of predominantly raw ingredients and a mix of cooked chicken, boiled eggs and mayonnaise.

The French are more precise. With ‘salade de crudités’ or ‘salade fraîcheur’, you know you can expect just raw vegetables in the mix; they also have a separate word – salades – for vegetables usually consumed raw.

So this is my asparagus salade crudité, and rather delicious it is too.


How to shave asparagus?

It is surprisingly easy: a swivel-headed vegetable peeler does it in a jiffy.

Tips, as usual, should be cut off and handled separately. Then grab the spear by the whitish, woody and untrimmed end, place it flat down on a chopping board and run the peeler from just below the ends (thus leaving the fibrous bits behind) towards where the tip was. Lovely and curly, asparagus shavings, hey presto.

how to shave asparagus

This of course works the best with the fat, stocky asparagus in the peak of the season. Spindly ones will hardly render a shaving or two, not that the salad won’t be delicious anyway.

The tips can be left intact, halved or quartered lengthwise, depending on how substantial the spears. Set them aside, to add in at the very end – they won’t need any marinating.

asparagus tips

Salting to soften

This, especially if you’re a little distrustful towards raw asparagus, will make them tenderer, almost like cooked a little.

Toss the shaved ribbons with salt and lemon juice in a colander set over a bowl, add the currants to be softened too and leave for about fifteen minutes, while you make the dressing.

marinating asparagus

Creamy, dreamy dressing

I have recently decided that I prefer this cream-based dressing over boring vinaigrette. It is easy to make and actually lower in calories though the dairy content might put certain people off (it shouldn’t).

What you do is simply season double cream with salt and black pepper and whisk it lightly, only to foam up. You can use a fork for this.

Then add the vinegar, white wine, sherry or apple cider, the mustard and whisk a few times more – it will instantly thicken because that’s what acid does to cream.

The thickness of mayonnaise is sufficient, you don’t want it to turn into cheese all of a sudden (joke – it takes a bit more than whisking in acid).

I use this dressing in all kinds of salads, including simple lettuce.

cream based dressing

Assembling asparagus salad

The asparagus shavings need to be gently shaken off the moisture or delicately patted dry with kitchen towels. Make sure you don’t lose any currants.

Finely chopped dill is a must, it goes amazingly well with asparagus, and some toasted seeds and almonds flakes add lovely crunch.

toasted seeds

Toss it all with the dressing – and finally add those all-but-forgotten asparagus tips to top the salad.

It tastes fresh and crunchy, and delicious, not as strongly asparagus-ey as cooked spears. But for those interested: the olfactory side effect is significantly amplified!

assembling asparagus salad

More asparagus recipes

Fresh green asparagus cooked gently in butter, served with some shavings of Parmesan, is a delicious spring treat. To snap or not to snap the ends, make sure you cook them quickly and get them as local and fresh as possible.

Asparagus tart on puff pastry, modestly cheesy but superiorly easy to make. It’s a delightful springtime brunch or lunch dish, making the most of the short British asparagus season while it lasts.

Scallop and asparagus stir fry. Use frozen queen scallops for this dish, they will come into their own anyway against the background of perfectly cooked aubergines and asparagus.

More raw salad recipes

Green papaya salad with sweet and sour dressing is crunchy, juicy and incredibly full of goodness. Plus, it helps digest meat!

Raw broccoli salad with fragrant Asian dressing. New York Times inspired salad of fresh raw broccoli marinated in garlic and sesame dressing.

Zingy carrots, the best carrot salad without mayonnaise or mustard, exploding with flavour. This simple grated carrot salad takes minutes to prepare and goes well with any main dish. Grated or julienned, my zingy carrots recipe is one to try.

raw asparagus ribbon salad

Shaved asparagus salad

Servings: 4Time: 30 minutes


  • 400g (1 pound) asparagus
  • 1 tbsp currants
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 100ml (½ cup) double cream
  • salt and black pepper
  • 1 tsp good white vinegar
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • 10g (1 tbsp) pine nuts
  • 10g (1 tbsp) sunflower seeds
  • 10g (2 tbsp) flaked almonds
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped fresh dill


1. Wash the asparagus, trim the tips and set aside. Using a vegetable peeler, shave asparagus into strips, holding each spear by the woody end flat on a chopping board and shaving from about 2cm from the end.

2. Place the strips in a colander set over a bowl. Add the currants, toss with salt and lemon juice and leave for 15 minutes.

3. In the meantime season the cream with salt and pepper and whisk lightly. Add the vinegar and mustard and whisk a couple more times until thick like mayonnaise.
Toast the seeds and almond flakes in a dry skillet.

4. Gently pat excess moisture from the asparagus with paper towels and squeeze the strips lightly. Arrange in a serving bowl, sprinkle with dill and half the seeds, and toss with the dressing. Slice the tips lengthwise if they are very thick and arrange on top with extra seeds and dill.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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