June 7, 2011
Shaved Asparagus Salad
We're having a heat wave here in Minnesota. Today, as I weeded between the summer squash plants in 90 degree heat, I tried not to think about my own sweaty toil and let my mind wander to all the people who work hard to bring me the food I eat. It starts with the farmer, whose name I rarely know, planting seeds. Or the people who work for the farmer, tending and harvesting. Truthfully, I don't know exactly where it comes from most of the time, or who put their time and energy and sweat into the ingredients that I use to make my dinner. Cooking, creating a dish, eating and sharing food are such personal and every day acts that we rarely think about what happened before the lettuce, milk or beans arrived in the kitchen.
I've always been grateful when I know just where my food comes from, when I can say I grew this basil I made that bread. Although it's not always possible, there are many opportunities to meet and get to know the people nearby who make and grow our food. From the local bakery, to the farmer's market, to becoming a member of a CSA, you can find out more about where your food comes from by getting it straight from the source.
I picked up ingredients to make this salad at the farmer's market, where I came face to face with the growers and producers, or at least people very close to them. Asparagus is still piled high at many market tables and I wanted to try it in a new way. I usually oven roast the stalks, but peeling them into thin slivers is another way of using them and makes a flavorful base for a different sort of green salad.
Shaved Asparagus Salad
With this salad, the asparagus works as a base -- an alternative to greens that can be combined with a wide variety of flavors. I wanted to keep it simple with just a few vegetables, a bit of cheese and some nuts. It's nice to use seasonal ingredients, but I think you could pair the shaved asparagus with almost anything you would like in a salad.
One bunch of asparagus
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
4 radishes, thinly slices
1 1/2 ounces parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
Using a sharp vegetable peeler, peel (or shave) each stalk of asparagus into thin ribbons. Grate, or shave off thin slices of the parmesan cheese. Place the asparagus in a bowl with the walnuts, radish slices, and cheese. Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil on top and season with salt and pepper. Makes plenty for 2 people.