Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad
My second to last rotation for my internship was at the University of Maryland campus in the dining services department. At the end of the rotation my partner and I had to create a 3 course meal to serve to our director and the managers of the dining services department. The chef let us have free rein – no spending limit, no limit on the amount of recipes or even the type! So we planned out a pretty delicious menu – crab cakes, crab imperial stuffed shrimp, grilled asparagus and a lemon tart for dessert!
The most exciting part of our meal was getting to cook with the executive Chef. He taught us some pretty cool cooking tricks and techniques. One really fun tip he showed us was for our salad course. He topped some mixed greens with shaved asparagus and parmesan cheese. The salad tasted great, but what was really awesome was the presentation. It was piled high with these beautifully thin pieces of shaved asparagus. And to top it off, I was totally surprised that I actually loved the asparagus on the salad. As a usual asparagus hater, I was happy to find that it was sweet, crunchy and full of a grassy Spring flavor. It was awesome.
The second I got home after our meal, I knew I really wanted to try to recreate a similar recipe at home. Dario absolutely loves asparagus and I knew he had never had shaved asparagus. So I got to work in the kitchen and whipped up a salad that featured many of my favorite ingredients – goat cheese, toasted nuts and arugula. Ha, I bet you could have guessed those, right? Plus a heaping pile of shaved purple asparagus on top.
I have to stay, I’m not usually one for detailed presentations, but I took my time plating these salads and they came out beautiful. I think…actually better than the UMD Chef’s presentation! But just by a touch. One key point to make this salad really beautiful is to soak the shaved asparagus in a big bowl of ice water first. It makes the shavings curl up really nice. It’s actually kinda cool.
I used some beautiful purple asparagus from my farmers market in this salad, but regular green would work great too. And like many of my dishes, this salad is totally adaptable to your tastes – so any ingredients you don’t like, you can switch out with some of your favorites. I hope you try out the shaved asparagus AND the salad. I know you’ll love it!
Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad (serves 2):
- 3 cups lightly packed arugula
- 4 medium beets, cooked and then quartered
- 5 thick asparagus spears
- 1/3 crumbled Ricotta Salata (or other salty hard cheese)
- 1/4 roasted and chopped hazelnuts
- 1/3 thinly sliced red onion
- Lemon Vinaigrette, drizzled to taste
- Line up all 5 of the asparagus spears on a cutting board. Cut off the about the bottom 1-2″ of each spear to get rid of any tough ends. Then with a vegetable peeler, peel along the entire length of the asparagus to create long thing strips or shavings. See pictures above. Place shaved asparagus in an ice water bath for 10 minutes. This will help the shavings curl slightly.
- Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add hazelnuts and toast for 1-2 minutes or until lightly golden. Roughly chop hazelnuts and set aside.
- Toss arugula with desired amount of lemon vinaigrette dressing. Divide the dressed arugula between two plates, mounding it in the center of each plate.
- Top the arugula first with the red onion, then the shaved asparagus, hazelnuts, and cheese. Place beets around the edge of the salad. This makes for a really pretty presentation.
- Sprinkle with more dressing, salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.