Shaved Asparagus Salad

Image of freshly-picked asparagus

New season English asparagus is naturally sweet and grassy and is just as good raw as cooked. Try it this way with fresh, raw broad beans and peas in a lemony, creamy vinaigrette and sprinkle over a handful of quickly sizzled smoked pancetta as I did, or dollops of soft goats’ cheese.

It makes a lovely, light starter or lunch, perfect for a sunny Spring day out of doors (fingers crossed for the Bank Holiday weekend). Assembling it is a last-minute thing but it’s so quick to make it really is no trouble. The quantities are very rough – add and subtract according to taste and availability.

I like this creamy dressing but I confess it is prone to splitting if you don’t use it straight away. To resolve this either add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard with the hard-boiled egg yolk (I didn’t want a mustardy taste) or, if it does separate, break a fresh (raw) egg yolk into a clean bowl and whisk in the split dressing a bit at a time. It’ll come together much more easily than making a classic mayonnaise.

Shaved Asparagus Salad

  • Servings: 4 as a starter, 2 as a main
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Image of shaved asparagus salad

Ingredients:

About 8 fat stalks of asparagus

A big handful of fresh peas, podded (or frozen, at a pinch, defrosted)

A big handful of baby broad beans

The yolk of one hard-boiled egg

Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon (scrub it under hot water before zesting if it’s been waxed)

About 80-100 ml olive oil, to taste

Salt, freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar

A big handful of diced pancetta (if using)

Image of asparagus sahved with a vegetable peeler

Method:

Make the vinaigrette: crush the hard-boiled egg yolk with the lemon zest and juice and whisk well to blend. Whisk in the olive oil and season to taste with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar.

Blanch the broad beans for one minute in boiling water and unless they’re small and bright green, slip off the skins. Run them under the cold tap to arrest cooking and drain. Pod the peas.

Snap the woody ends off the asparagus where the stalks bend and discard. Using a vegetable peeler and starting at the stalk end, shave the asparagus into long strips and place in a bowl. You’ll have a few endy bits but you can save them for a risotto or soup. Add the broad beans and peas to the salad bowl.

Image of veg before dressing

Whisk up the vinaigrette again if it has separated (see above) and drizzle over two or three tablespoons, turning the veg to coat. The beans and peas always fall to the bottom so fish some out and throw them on top arrange them artistically.

Add a small splash of olive oil to a pan and frizzle the cubed pancetta until it’s turning golden. Lift out with a slotted spoon and scatter over the salad. Eat at once.

Image of shaved asparagus salad, served

10 thoughts on “Shaved Asparagus Salad

  1. Oh yum. All the same, as I am reduced to buying my asparagus from the market or shops, I wonder if it woud be fresh enough for this treatment. What do you think?

    • Sorry not to get back to you before, Margaret, I’ve been travelling. I’d suggest you buy the freshest you can find, try shaving a bit and if it seems a little limp, plunge it into iced water for half an hour to crisp it up. Lx

      • Actually, I got lucky on Saturday and got some squeakily fresh asparagus direct from a farm. So I’ll bottle your suggestion for later, but not needed this time. Delicious, by the way. Enjoy the rest of your time away x

  2. For whatever reason, I’ve never thought to make a salad of raw asparagus, even though I’ve been known to nibble of spare bits of it as I cook. Will definitely give it try!

    • Hi Frank, thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I hadn’t tried it either, until now, but it has a lovely, bright taste. Highly recommended! Please report back if you try it. Lx

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