Thursday, June 4, 2009

Asparagus Salad

I almost put in asparagus furroughs last month, but decided that my garden is too much in flux to designate any one spot as asparagus forever. Now I’m sorry because I’m one more year away from snipping tender stalks in my own back yard. And since our veggie CSA and the farmer’s market don’t start up till next week, I’m afraid I’m only going to get local asparagus from Whole Foods and Harvest Coop. I’ll stare off the back porch and wander the rows all summer fantasizing about different possible spots, and next year I’ll be ready for the commitment.

Asparagus is so delicious when it’s fresh and in season (like now) that I eat it unaccompanied and just steamed (in a steamer basket, maybe 10 minutes till just tender), no oil or anything, on a regular basis, though my new favorite is definitely grilled (I use a veggie grilling basket) or broiled with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

But I do like variety, and have recently become enamored of the ways that asparagus pairs with with salad goodies. For salad, I use the grilled or broiled method above, then let cool and chop into 1-inch pieces.

Grilled or broiled asparagus pairs wonderfully with a number of different salad options. Here are some basic ideas for hearty salads that in large servings make a whole meal. I always use a balsamic vinaigrette with these.

Lettuce or arugula topped with asparagus, roasted beets, toasted walnuts, and feta or goat cheese.

Lettuce or arugula topped with asparagus, sliced hardboiled eggs, and chunks of sharp cheddar cheese.

Spaghetti broken into short pieces cooked and cooled, tossed with arugula, pitted (and halved if you want) kalamata olives, and asparagus. Sundried tomatoes and feta or goat cheese are nice with this too.