Asparagus season is upon us and though it is the first sign of all the vibrant fruits and veggies still to come our way, we can only use asparagus as a side dish so many times before panicking at the sight of those green stalks in the grocery store. Today’s simple salad recipe not only showcases the fresh, nutty flavours of the classic spring vegetable, it also makes a great dish to bring to a BBQ.

Asparagus_Salad.jpg

To serve 4-6 people, grab about 400-500 g of asparagus. Look for crisp, thin stalks. Wash and dry them well.

Asparagus_Salad_Raw

Remove the denser, woody lower section of the stalks by gently bending and allowing the stalk to break at a natural point.

Asparagus_Salad_Stem

Using a veggie peeler, slice the asparagus into thin strips. Simply peel away thin layers and keep going until there’s no more asparagus left. This is a good job for one of the older kids.

Asparagus_Salad_Peeler

Toss all the asparagus slivers into a large bowl as you go.

Asparagus_Salad_Bowl

Squeeze some fresh lemon on the salad, then drizzle it with about a tablespoon of good olive oil. Toss and season with salt and pepper.

Asparagus_Salad_Lemon_Olive_Oil

Grate a ½ cup fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan) and toss with the salad just before serving. Don’t use the fake or pre-grated stuff; it does not yield the same flavour!

Asparagus_Salad_Parmesan

You can prep the salad in advance and just add the dressing before serving. To add a bit of colour, toss in some shaved radish slices. Either way, it’s a perfect match for anything on the grill.

Asparagus_Salad_Final

Shaved Asparagus Salad

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients:
500g fresh asparagus
half a fresh lemon
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
Salt
Fresh ground pepper
½ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan)

Directions:
1. Wash and dry the asparagus, then snap off the lower, woody part of the stems.
2. Using a vegetable peeler, start to shave off thin slices of asparagus and collect them in a large bowl.
3. Squeeze fresh lemon over the salad and drizzle with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil. Season with salt and fresh pepper and toss to combine.
4. Add the Parmesan just before serving and toss lightly.

Sue Riedl is a Toronto-based food writer with a passion for cheese who writes a column called The Spread for The Globe and Mail. She loves to push stinky cheese on her 4-year-old.
Sue_Riedl