I’ve been snapping up the first thick asparagus spears of the season; so crunchy, fresh, and mild. I munched about half a bunch raw as a snack, can’t remember that ever happening before.
I thought I’d finally join the trend of making a shaved asparagus salad, cutting thin slices of asparagus with a vegetable peeler to make a fresh raw salad. As it turns out, though, my vegetable peeler is not up to task, though it had no trouble cutting parmesan curls to top the salad. What do you do with a half-dull vegetable peeler anyway? You can’t sharpen it like a regular knife, and if you’re me, it’s not really bad enough to throw away.
Leaving that dilemma for another day, I cut the asparagus lengthwise and then into short pieces. I steamed half a bunch of cauliflower florets, and to give the salad substance I added chickpeas and wild rice.
I had cooked a pot of wild rice and one of chickpeas and used just a little of each for this salad. I made the beans with my basic chickpea recipe and the wild rice in a rice cooker since it takes a long and somewhat variable amount of time on the stove. Wild rice can often take longer to cook than brown rice: if you are not up for that Trader Joe’s sells pre-cooked wild rice. With prepared wild rice and canned chickpeas this recipe could be on the table very quickly.
On this first round I topped the salad with sliced hard-boiled egg– so pretty and good– and served it over Bibb lettuce. I felt the lettuce was too delicate to go with the veggies so I went on to round two. But I have to show you round one, it looked so nice!
Next time around I amped up the lemon juice and shallots for a more flavorful dressing, ditched the lettuce, and topped the salad with shaved parmesan. It was well-received even by my teen who is not a huge asparagus fan. He said that it was pretty good, and that given the asparagus that was saying a lot. For my husband and I who like asparagus it was a clear winner.
I’m not sure how this salad would work with late season asparagus, which is thinner, tougher, more flavorful– and probably impossible to cut lengthwise. By the time that asparagus rolls around we’ll probably be able to grill again and switch to our usual roasted asparagus. Meanwhile we’ll be eating this!
- For the salad:
- 1 c. cooked wild rice
- 1 c. cooked chickpeas
- 1 bunch asparagus, approx. 13-16 oz., spears cut lengthwise and then crosswise into short pieces.
- 1 small or ½ large head of cauliflower, approx. 11 oz., florets broken into small pieces.
- (parmesan to shave on top of the salad– optional)
- For the dressing:
- 5 Tbsp. lemon juice (juice of 1 extra-large lemon or 2 med. lemons)
- 3 Tbsp. minced shallot (1 med. shallot, minced)
- 3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. salt
- black pepper to taste
- For the salad:
- Prepare asparagus by cutting lengthwise and then crosswise into small pieces.
- Prepare cauliflower by cutting the florets off the stalk and then breaking the florets into small pieces.
- Steam the cauliflower florets in a few inches of simmering water for about 7 minutes, until soft but not mushy.
- Drain cauliflower florets.
- For the dressing:
- Peel and mince enough shallot to yield 3 Tbsp.
- Juice enough lemon to yield 5 Tbsp. of lemon juice.
- Combine shallot and lemon juice with extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tsp. salt and black pepper to taste.
- (For an even better version make the dressing in advance, or let the shallots infuse in the olive oil for a while to develop a stronger flavor. I wasn't that organized but you can be!)
- Combine the dressing with the veggies, toss and serve onto dinner plates.
- Top with shavings of parmesan, peeling strips of parmesan off the cheese with a vegetable peeler.