Asparagus gets a shave

By now, you may have had your fill of simply steamed or roasted asparagus.  I haven’t yet, but I can see that day coming.

Every spring, I gorge on plump asparagus spears from the farmers markets.  I adore the grassy freshness and pure green flavor of just-cut stalks.  Nothing tastes quite so much like spring.

But somewhere along the line, I always begin thinking of the other things I might do with those beautiful spears.  This year, my thoughts turned to shaved asparagus salad.

It began with this video from Chow.  I had never really considered the idea of asparagus in the raw before, but the ribbons of shaved asparagus looked so good, they begged for a salad that made the most of their fresh flavor.

Shaving the stalks lengthwise with a Y-shaped peeler produces paper-thin strips that don’t require any cooking at all. Marinate them in a lemony vinaigrette for an hour or so before serving, and the ribbons soften, their grassy flavor mellowing into the essence of spring.

In this substantial salad, I’ve teamed the asparagus with its classic partnerss, eggs and ham.  In this case, it’s salty prosciutto and hard-boiled eggs.

Preparing the asparagus takes a little time, but the rest of the salad comes together quickly.  Lay a stalk down on the counter and proceed to peel it in layers lengthwise.  When the stalk gets very thin, you may have to raise the stalk a little on the handle of a wooden spoon to give the blade room to maneuver.    Once you have a pile of ribbons, you’re ready to go.

I’ve added preserved lemon to the dressing to deepen the flavor.  It’s a wonderful savory condiment to have waiting in the refrigerator.  If you’d like to make your own, check out this earlier post.  Mark Bittman offered an even quicker variation in the New York Times a couple of years ago.

Of course, you could always just grate some fresh zest into the dressing.  Just don’t miss the delights of raw asparagus.

Serves 4Large bunch of medium asparagus stalks
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon preserved lemon, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
3 ounces prosciutto, sliced paper thin
2 eggs, hard boiledRinse asparagus and trim off tough ends of stalks.  Shave asparagus lengthwise with a sharp Y-shaped peeler to create paper-thin ribbons.  Pile ribbons into a medium bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, and preserved lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle dressing over the shaved asparagus and toss until the ribbons are evenly coated.  Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Asparagus can hold in the refrigerator for up to a day.

At mealtime, lift marinated asparagus out of dressing with tongs or a slotted spoon, divide among four salad plates and drape a couple of slices of prosciutto over each serving.   Cut eggs into eighths lengthwise and divide them among the plates.  Drizzle any dressing remaining in the bowl over the salads, evenly distributing the diced lemon. Serve.

Aleta Watson


3 thoughts on “Asparagus gets a shave”

  1. This sounds amazing! I’m so making this this weekend! Sounds like a Mother’s Day gift to myself, I do believe….

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