Shaved Asparagus and Pecorino Romano Salad

March 25, 2011

size matters

It’s Spring, so that means it’s officially time for asparagus even though it seems there is rarely a time that it isn’t available at the grocery store.  It’s probably one of our favorite vegetables,  so often in the “green & healthy” rotation around here for one meal or another if the price isn’t too crazy.  Most often, I saute it simply in olive oil with onion or shallots, a bit of garlic and lemon zest.  We bake it, grill it, enjoy it in soup, frittatas, omelettes, salads, and more often without hollandaise than with it.

As much as I pride myself on knowing quite a bit about the vegetables I enjoy, I was surprised to find out even more.

Ten Things:  Did you know that:

#1  asparagus is grown in the US states of Washington, Michigan, Illinois, New Jersey and California (which grows 80% of the nearly 200 million lbs. of the US crop). Otherwise, it’s grown extensively in Mexico, Peru, and China.

#2  it can grow as much as 10″ in 24 hours and that size does matter (the thicker the spear, the better the quality). The writer takes no responsibility for any connections the reader might make which are of a sexual nature.  *snort*

3#  asparagus contains glutathione (GSH) which happens to be the most powerful detoxifier in the body.

#4  the average American eats between 1-2 lbs. of asparagus per year as compared to 18.5 lbs. tomatoes.

#5  ancient Greeks and Romans thought asparagus might relieve a toothache or prevent a bee sting.

#6  asparagus contains rutin, a bioflavonoid vital to capillary strength and increasing circulation in the lower limbs.

#7  asparagus is a super source of folacin which helps not only with the duplication of cells, but growth and repair.

#8   it is a member of the lily family.

#9  after the asparagus harvest, the spears grow into ferns with red berries.

#10 asparagus is better suited to be grown locally more than any other vegetable.

Have you ever tried asparagus raw?  It’s my new favorite way to eat it.

shavings

Shaved Asparagus and Pecorino Romano Salad

1 lb. fresh, raw asparagus

5-6 shavings of pecorino romano cheese

the juice of 1/2 lemon

1-2 T extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

Trim the woody ends if any and discard.  Cut the tip from each spear, then using a sharp vegetable peeler, shave along the length of each spear, flipping from top to bottom as you go.  Place the asparagus shavings on a large plate along with the tips and squeeze the lemon juice over.  Toss lightly with your hand.  Drizzle the olive oil over and season with salt and pepper.  Top with pecorino romano shavings.

Notes:

  • This salad was adapted from one I first saw in Mario Batali’s Molto Gusto:  Easy Italian Cooking.  The biggest difference is that he suggests a lemon vinaigrette made with lemon marmalade.  I wasn’t thrilled with that idea since I immediately thought of something sweet, but I haven’t tried it, so…
  • My husband loved this salad.  Loved.
  • This is a perfect recipe to choose the fattest asparagus spears you can find.  If they’re not available, then choose pencil-thin spears that easily snap when bent.
  • I love using my little ceramic veggie peeler for this.  It runs right through each stalk leaving little or no waste.  It also saves me from having to get out the mandoline.
  • Pecorino romano is a dry cheese with a heady aroma made of sheep’s milk that can be grated, crumbled, or shaved.  It’s slightly salty and has a bit of a sharp, nutty taste that isn’t as strong as that of Parmasean in my opinion.  You might recoil when you see the price tag ($17/lb.), but in the long run, you’re getting quite a bit of quality and flavor for that price — and it goes a long way.  It’s perfect with this salad.  It’s also very satisfying to nibble a little bit of it to stave off cravings for other things higher in carbs and calories.
  • I was tempted to add some proscuitto, but now think it would make the salad too salty.
  • A bit of crumbled hard-boiled egg would be a lovely addition.
  • Make this with the best quality ingredients — its simplicity will allow you to enjoy all of the flavors.
  • What might you add to this salad to put your own spin on it?  Let me hear about it when you do!

For more information about asparagus, refer to the following sources:

Asparagus : Farmology

Sustainablog: “What Asparagus Tells Us About Our Food Future” (An excellent site overall, rich with information regarding all things “green.”)

California Asparagus Commission: “Asparagus ‘Tips’”

Discovery Channel:  The Skinny On…“Why Asparagus Makes Your Pee Stink”

CDC:  Fruits & Veggies Matter “Fruit of the Month Asparagus”

And if you’re someone interested in growing asparagus, this is a great piece:

The New York Times: “Cuttings; Now You Don’t See It, Now You Do:  Asparagus.”

 

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Kalynskitchen March 25, 2011

Love, love, love!

Reply

Esi March 25, 2011

I’m obsessed with this salad! I made a version a couple summers ago and topped with the hardboiled egg.

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kellypea March 26, 2011

I’ll have to check that out. Sounds so yummy to me :)

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The Café Sucré Farine March 26, 2011

Wow, this looks divine! I’m so excited to see asparagus at the market for such great prices and while I love the tiny thin tender spears, it’s great to have a recipe that specifically calls for the thick spears, thanks, can’t wait to try this!

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Joanne March 26, 2011

Coincidentally enough, I am eating asparagus as I write this. I find this 1-2 lb per person statistic shocking since I eat that every other day during the spring. I must be holding up the fort for the rest of the country. It’s my favorite spring veggie!

I love the simplicity of this salad…yet that it’s fully of quality ingredients!

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kellypea March 26, 2011

Yep — I’m making another dish with asparagus myself for tonight. We love it. And I thought the same thing about the average consumption amount. It just shows how many probably never eat it — ever. I can’t imagine.

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Missy March 26, 2011

Love this…… and size does matter~ I prefer large asparagus… This is a must do. .

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Rosa March 27, 2011

I love Pecorino and asparagus! That salad is refined and so flavorful. Yummy.

Cheers,

Rosa

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Helene March 28, 2011

At this time of the year I could eat asparagus every day. Nice plate.

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Feast on the Cheap March 31, 2011

So those top 10 asparagus facts totally blew my mind. 10″ in 24 hours?! It’s like a superhero…

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kellypea April 1, 2011

Exactly. I knew it took a few years to get going, but to grow that fast? Would be fun to GYO, wouldn’t it?

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Stacy (Little Blue Hen) April 12, 2011

I’ve never actually tried asparagus raw! You’ve inspired me to remedy that. And now I even have a good excuse to buy Pecorino.

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Amy April 18, 2011

Love the idea of the raw aparagus – tried a similar version a while ago and it was awesome!

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