Delicate fresh asparagus and finely shaved mushrooms are tossed with miso dressing and topped with lightly toasted walnuts.
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…
Serves Serves 4
A raw asparagus salad with miso dressing and crunchy walnuts.
20 minPrep Time
- 1 bunch thin asparagus spears (about 1 pound), trimmed and bottom half peeled if stalks aren’t pencil thin
- 3 oz/ 85g baby portabella (aka cremini) mushrooms, cleaned and patted dry
- 1 Tablespoon/15ml light white or yellow miso, (organic and non-GMO)
- 1 ½ Tablespoons rice vinegar (unseasoned or you can use apple cider vinegar if you prefer)
- ½ tsp raw honey
- 1 Tablespoon/15ml mild flavored olive oil (or walnut oil if you prefer)
- 1 Tablespoon/15ml water (or more if necessary to thin dressing)
- 1/4 cup/ 28g walnuts, lightly toasted
- Working with 1 asparagus spear at a time, slice spears on the diagonal to create very thin slices. Transfer to a medium bowl (snap off tips as you get to the end of the spears and add to bowl). Shave mushrooms with a mandolin to create paper thin slices and add to bowl as well.
- Combine miso, rice vinegar, honey, oil and water in a small bowl and briskly whisk until well blended and a pourable consistency (add more water to thin if necessary).
- Drizzle miso dressing over shaved mushrooms and asparagus and toss to coat.
- Divide asparagus salad among plates. Top with toasted walnuts and serve.
How do you enjoy asparagus?
(A special thanks to California Walnuts for providing the walnuts for this recipe.)