They’re the talk of the town; slim, green and delicate, and come springtime everyone’s talking about them – asparagus.
Nothing screams springtime like asparagus (well perhaps artichokes do), the first appearance of those tender stalks at the market is a long anticipated event after the long produce-starved winter months. And as soon as I spot them you can be sure I’ll have a bunch on hand throughout the season, because asparagus this fresh and tender won’t last for long.
Although delicious steamed, blanched, roasted or grilled, there’s another side to preparing asparagus. Sweet in-season asparagus is so fresh there’s no reason you have to cook it at all.
Did you know you could eat asparagus raw?
This may not be breaking news to many of you but it wasn’t the most obvious thing in the world to me at first. I suppose years of preparing it in the above mentioned manners left me blind to the possibility, that is until I stumbled onto a recipe for shaved asparagus dressed in a lemon and olive oil vinaigrette, topped with Parmesan.
Raw asparagus has a slightly sweet, mild grassy flavor. Its crisp texture is just right for a warm night when a hot meal seems out of place. Not to mention how quick and quick it is to prepare that way.
For this salad I swapped the lemon vinaigrette out for an Asian inspired miso dressing (ever so slightly sweet) to compliment the delicate fresh asparagus and added in some finely shaved mushrooms for earthiness. Rather than ribbons, I thinly sliced the slim stalks of asparagus on the diagonal to create slender slivers (make sure you choose the slimmest stalks as they are the most tender raw). The whole thing is topped with lightly toasted walnuts for some added crunch.
Crunchy, crisp, peppery, earthy and sweet, this combination might make you re-think cooking asparagus again at all. So get yourself to the market soon, because asparagus season is quickly passing…
How do you enjoy asparagus?
(A special thanks to California Walnuts for providing the walnuts for this recipe.)