Asparagus Salad

April 4, 2011

Yesterday, I wrote about my Aunt Annie’s cactus salad, which is delicious and only has 3 ingredients, so it’s simple-pimple to make.  I love recipes with only a few ingredients – it makes shopping a breeze, especially if you’re like me and don’t have a widely-stocked pantry with all sorts of basics at your fingertips.  I used to really like 5 Ingredient Fix, a Food Network show where every dish has 5 ingredients or less, but I stopped watching because the host, Claire Robinson, started wearing on my last nerve.  That’s my pattern with most Food Network cooking programs – I start watching because I’m interested in the food (and the host’s ‘culinary point-of-view’, to use a phrase uttered 10,000 times on every episode of The Next Food Network Star), and keep watching until I get so annoyed by the host that I never want to watch again.  I’m sure, a lot of the time, that it’s not even the host’s fault – a lot of them are funny, engaging, and interesting – it’s just that Food Network produces every single one of their shows to be remarkably similar to everything else on their schedule, and it all starts to feel tired.  Then, every once in a while, they’ll debut a new show like What Would Brian Boitano Make, that’s fresh and clever and (gasp!) different, but new episodes of that show haven’t aired in a year, and while they haven’t officially announced that it’s canceled (I don’t think), it sure doesn’t look good.

But I digress.  I could write post after post about my thoughts on the Food Network (don’t get me started on how they deal with vegetarian recipes), but this post is supposed to be about an asparagus salad.  And now I’m all riled up.

Getting back on track now.

OK.  I just got up, walked away from my computer for a minute, but now I’m back and I think I’ll just start over:

Yesterday, I wrote about my Aunt Annie’s cactus salad, which is delicious and only has 3 ingredients, so it’s simple-pimple to make.  I love recipes with only a few ingredients – it makes shopping a breeze, especially if you’re like me and don’t have a widely-stocked pantry with all sorts of basics at your fingertips.  It reminded me of another simple-pimple salad in my arsenal, which I made last night, so I thought I’d share the recipe and some pictures.  It’s my asparagus salad.

Here’s the cool thing about this asparagus salad – the asparagus is raw.  That’s right, I said it – raw.  I didn’t know you could eat asparagus raw until I saw this recipe, and now, it’s one of my favorite things to do with asparagus!  This recipe is adapted from a recipe I saw in a magazine years ago.  I don’t recall which magazine, because I didn’t even tear out the page – it was so simple, I just memorized the recipe and it’s been stuck in my head ever since.

Start with asparagus.  You can only really do this with super-skinny baby asparagus – no bigger, in diameter, than a pencil.  I see asparagus all the time that’s thicker than my pinky, and I don’t recommend using it for this.  As you can see, this bunch of asparagus was much narrower than my pinky:

I chopped off the woodier ends of the asparagus (there are a couple different methods for knowing where to cut – go here or here to learn more):

I tossed the stems, and cut the remaining stalks into pea-sized pieces:

Here’s all of them in a bowl:

Time for ingredient #2.  Onion.  I normally like adding red or purple onion, for the color, but I didn’t have any red or purple onions, so I added what I did have: a shallot.  I would have added 1/3 to 1/2 of a red or purple onion, depending on its size, but since shallots are much smaller, I chopped up the whole thing…

…and added it to the bowl:

Ingredient #3: Parmesan cheese.  I like using shaved Parmesan for this.  The Parmesan I purchased was “Cello Shaved Parmesan” – does anyone know what that means?  Is Cello is brand or Parmesan variety or something?  Or does that mean a cello was used during the shaving process?  It would sure make a symphony even more enjoyable (and productive) if, afterwards, there were piles of shaved cheese underneath the cellists!

I crumbled bigger pieces like these into much smaller pieces, and added about 1/3 of a cup.

The final ingredient: dressing.  You could easily add oil and vinegar, as the magazine suggested, but I had a bottle of unopened fat-free Balsamic Vinaigrette that I wanted to try, so I used that instead:

I tend to very lightly dress my salads, so I only used maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons for the whole bowl.

Ready for the finished product?

It’s really good.  Seriously good.  I ate this bowl, and another bowl, for dinner last night, and the other half I’m eating for lunch today.  Which means I get to look forward to two days of stinky asparagus pee.

Keep it up, David!