Monday, March 29, 2010

SPRING, SPRANG, SPRUNG

This past month the Full Belly Farm CSA box has supplied us with nonstop asparagus. Most of the time I kept the asparagus raw and added fennel, piave cheese, and tons of meyer lemon and caper vinaigrette. Dash and Bella scarfed up this salad. My mother-in-law loved it. I ate it almost every day for a week. Here's what I learned:
  • The meyer lemon caper vinaigrette is even better when it's a day or two old.
  • The vinaigrette works well as a marinade for chicken or fish (cod or halibut).
  • After trimming the asparagus stalks, it's better to peel them up to the base of the tips, especially if you're eating them raw.
  • Slice your fennel at the very last minute or it will turn brown. Everything else in this salad can be prepped ahead of time.
  • Buy a mandoline. Use the guard. At least for a little while.
  • Buy some piave (Italian cow's milk cheese). It reminds me of a young parmesan. It's hard but still smooth in your mouth. It's sweet, easy to slice, and genius in a salad. 

ASPARAGUS, FENNEL, AND PIAVE CHEESE SALAD WITH MEYER LEMON CAPER VINAIGRETTE: printable recipe
Slice the fennel at the last minute or it will turn brown.
Feeds 1-2 with some dressing left over.

- 1 shallot, diced
- 1/2 anchovy plus a little of the oil, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 meyer lemon (or regular lemon),  juice plus zest
- 1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers with some of the juice
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (I always use creamy Grey Poupon)
- about 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (a strong olive oil works well)
- 10-12 stalks of asparagus, ends trimmed, peeled up to the base of the tips, and thinly sliced on an angle
- 1 medium-sized head of fennel, very thinly sliced (paper thin with mandoline if possible)
- a few sprigs of fennel fronds, coarsely chopped or torn
- 20 or so strips of piave cheese (or parmesan), very thinly sliced (works well with a vegetable peeler)
- crunchy salt
- pepper

Place shallot and anchovy (if using) in a bowl. Add lemon juice + zest, vinegar, capers + juice, and set aside for 10 minutes. Add mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Taste. Add a bit more of whatever flavor is lacking. Maybe more lemon, or anchovy or olive oil. Set aside. It will keep for a week in the fridge.

Combine asparagus, fennel, and fennel fronds. Add salt and pepper. Toss with some of the vinaigrette. Taste. This salad absorbs a lot of dressing so be prepared to add more. Sprinkle cheese over the top and gently toss once more. Serve immediately.

8 comments:

  1. Beautiful post! Bella with those ranunculus, and the fresh colors of the salad are making me so happy (and hungry).

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  2. excellent timing - tho i love asparagus i get tired of it quickly and was just asking another friend (who is nutty for it) how she prepares it in the hopes of getting a new idea. et voila, you show up! thanks phyllis!

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  3. hey penny, it is good timing. i got a few more asparagus ideas coming up this week. i'll try to get them up fast. thanks for all your comments. sounds like a lot of great cooking is happening at your house...

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  4. Tried making this and it was really good, though I had to use parmesan and skipped on some ingredients.If you won't mind I'd love to guide foodista readers to your site.Just add your choice of Foodista widget at the end of this blog post and it's good to go.Thanks!

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  5. Am making this salad for friends for brunch right now. It feels like you are in the kitchen with me. So fun!

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  6. The salad was wonderful and a huge hit. The lemony dressing, the slivers of asparagus and fennel, and that scrumptious Piave... I will definitely be making this salad again and again. Beautiful recipe!

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  7. thanks, erin. and thanks for reporting back about the outcome. it's one of my favorite salads. i'm so glad you liked it too. i was thinking that if you had any remaining dressing you could use it as a base for homemade mayonnaise. did the mandoline come out?

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  8. Nice. Thanks for the salad idea. I'm hoping I can still get asparagus this late because I'm planning on making this tomorrow night to serve before a pan fried tilapia. Any substitution ideas for the asparagus?

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