A few weeks ago I friend and I had lunch at Le Pichet. They were featuring an asparagus salad that screamed spring. It was just a few simple ingredients but a great combination of tastes and textures. A few nights later I decided to replicate it for a dinner with friends. While mine was not exactly the same, it was close enough and just as delicious.
While fresh, local asparagus are still available give this one a try. All measurements are approximate – adjust to your liking.
Lemony Asparagus Salad
- 1 Tbsp lemon simple syrup (recipe below)
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 3 – 4 Tbsp olive oil
- Pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1 pound of asparagus
- 2 - 4 green onions, thinly sliced - I used young Walla Walla Sweet onions. They are technically a green onion but the white part of the onion is about 2″ in diameter. If using “regular” green onions you’ll want 3 – 4 of them
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 2 – 4 slices of candied lemon, chopped (recipe below)
- 4 ounces of goat cheese (rolled goat cheese works, best)
- 4 slices of prosciutto, Jamon Serrano or other thinly sliced, dry-cured ham
Combine the simple syrup and lemon juice. Whisk in the olive oil. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Set aside.
Remove the woody stems from the asparagus and then cut them into 2″ pieces. Fill a medium bowl with ice water. Bring a medium pot filled with water to a rolling boil. Blanche the asparagus for about 2 minutes. The actual time will depend on how thick the asparagus are. You want them to still be crispy. Remove from the boiling water and plunge them into the bowl of ice water. Let them sit until cool, then remove from the ice water and spread them on a kitchen towel to dry.
While the asparagus are drying, toast the pine nuts. Place them in a small frying pan over medium heat. Shake or stir them every few minutes. As soon as they begin to turn brown, remove them from the heat.
Slice the goat cheese into 4 rounds. Wrap each round in a piece of ham and place on a silpat or parchment paper.
In a bowl combine the asparagus, green onions, pine nuts and candied lemon. Toss to combine. Add the dressing a little at a time until the salad is moist but not dripping wet. Divide between 4 plates.
Place the goat cheese under the broiler and heat until the cheese is very soft and the ham is beginning to brown. Remove from the oven and place one piece of cheese on each plate of asparagus.
Lemon Simple Syrup and Candied Lemon
- 3/4 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 lemon, very thinly sliced, seeds removed
Mix the sugar and water in a small saucepan. Place over medium-high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves. Add the sliced lemon. When the syrup comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove one lemon slice from the syrup. As it cools it should be a little crispy. If it’s not, return it to the syrup and simmer another 5 minutes. Test again and repeat as necessary. The lemons don’t need to be brittle but they need to have some body to them.
Use leftover syrup for other salad dressings; to sweeten ice-tea or hot tea; to brighten sparkling water; to sweeten whip cream – the possibilities are endless! The leftover lemon slices can be used as a garnish on strawberry shortcake; lemon flavored cupcakes or muffins; chopped and added to vegetable or fruit salads and more…