In this salad, raw asparagus spears are shaved into long ribbons and then tossed in a rich, flavorful dressing made from pine nuts, lemon, olive oil and Parmesan. It’s the kind of dressing that could double as a simple pasta sauce — and in fact, when it’s tossed with the long, wide asparagus ribbons, the dish is reminiscent of fettuccine.
After the initial shaving of the asparagus, the salad comes together very quickly. For ease and speed, I suggest using a sturdy peeler. The “T” shape peelers do a good job, and the process tends to be less fiddly if you seek out large asparagus. In the end, no matter what asparagus you use, the flavors of lemon and chives combined with fragrant toasted nuts and cheese create a satisfying salad that feels like the lightest bowl of pasta you’ve ever eaten.
Shaved Asparagus Salad with Lemon and Parmesan
Serves 2 to 4
For best flavor, I suggest using freshly toasted pine nuts in the dressing. Toast them in a skillet over medium heat and stir constantly until fragrant and deeply golden, about 2 minutes, and then immediately remove from heat. It’s also a good idea to serve this salad immediately, as the salt draws the moisture out of the asparagus and makes it watery if left to sit.
1 pound large asparagus, bottom 2 inches trimmed
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, divided
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
½ cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chipped chives
Sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Lay an asparagus spear flat on a cutting board. Starting at the bottom end, use a vegetable peeler to shave it into long thin strips. Place them in a medium bowl and repeat with remaining asparagus. Finely chop 2 tablespoons of the pine nuts and add them to the bowl. Add olive oil, lemon juice, Parmesan and chives, and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with remaining pine nuts and serve immediately.
Amy Chaplin is a chef and recipe developer in New York City. Her cookbook At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen will be available fall 2014. She blogs at Coconut & Quinoa.