Shaved asparagus salad with chive flower vinaigrette
The salad was inspired by a conversation I had with one of my daughters (Alexis) who lives in Toronto and gets to eat at the many fabulous restaurants in that cosmopolitan city. She was telling me about a shaved asparagus salad she had at Buca Bar I believe and although we didn’t get to discuss it in details it stayed on my mind and I knew I wanted to make it. I didn’t have a recipe but a salad doesn’t require one. Pile together ingredients that are compatible or contrasting in flavours, colours and textures, drizzle with a zesty vinaigrette and you create a lovely salad that reflects your style.
Shaving asparagus requires a vegetable peeler (easier than a mandoline). I find it easier to work with the one you see in the image below. Lay the asparagus flat on the cutting board and begin peeling thin ribbons with the vegetable peeler from the root end towards the flower end. Thicker asparagus is easier to work with than thin stalks. It doesn’t matter if the ribbons are not all perfect, you toss them together anyway. I decided to dip the shaved asparagus in boiling water for just 5 seconds or so to brighten them up. They do lose some crunch when you blanch them like that, but for me there is enough crunch in the salad from the remaining ingredients. You can do the same or leave the ribbons completely raw, it’s up to you.
The rest of the salad reflected what I had in the fridge, pantry and in my rooftop garden: watermelon radish, radicchio, baby white turnips, candied hazelnuts, chives and chive flowers. For the dressing I used rice vinegar, olive oil and honey and chopped in fresh chives and chive flowers. I was contemplating leaving it vegan but I ended up shaving parmesan over the salad. You can leave that out if you wish.
10 asparagus stalks, preferably not too thin
2 baby white turnips
1/2 small watermelon radish
1 cup shredded radicchio
1/3 cup chopped candied hazelnuts
2 Chive flowers, pulled apart
Parmesan or pecorino, shaved
3 tablespoons rice or cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 chive stems, chopped
1 chive flower, pulled apart
Using a vegetable peeler shave the asparagus into thin ribbons. Lay the asparagus on your cutting board and begin shaving it from the root end towards the flower end. Don’t worry if the ribbons are not even.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Have a bowl with ice water ready to drop the asparagus into after the boiling water bath. Drop the asparagus ribbons into the boiling water for not more than 5 seconds. Immediately scoop them out and drop into the ice water to stop the cooking. This should brighten the colour of the ribbons and it will slightly soften them as well.
Using a mandoline slice the turnip into thin slices, including the green tops.
Using the mandoline again, slice the watermelon radish into thin slices.
To make the dressing mix the vinegar, honey, oil and salt together in a small jar and shake well to combine. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Add the chive and chive flowers before serving.
Assembling the salad:
Bring a pot of
Mix the asparagus, turnips, radish and radicchio in a large bowl. At this point the salad can be refrigerated for a while before serving.
When ready to serve pile the salad onto salad plates and scatter chive flowers and the chopped nuts over.
Drizzle with the vinaigrette, then shave parmesan or pecorino over the salad.