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This shaved-asparagus salad is basically spring in a bowl

Shaved Asparagus salad

This season, I’d like to give a little credit to an underrated vegetable: asparagus. Its merits are endless, but the main reason I love it is that its appearance at the farmers market signals the arrival of spring. Goodbye, winter. I’m sorry, but it’s over between us.

Raw asparagus is a thing

I’m betting you didn’t know that you can eat asparagus raw. The spears are succulent and tender, with a crisp, refreshing crunch. They offer quite a few vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamins C and B6, and thiamine. To top it off, they are packed with fiber. These nutrients (not to mention the crunch) tend to get lost in the cooking process, so this Easter, try asparagus in all its raw glory with this gorgeous asparagus ribbon salad with garlicky breadcrumbs and lemon mint vinaigrette.

Shaved asparagus salad

The down low on this recipe

There are so many ways to highlight the beauty of asparagus, but shaving them into elegant ribbons is one of my favorites. Asparagus’ long emerald stalks fade to white on the inside, making for an ombre effect —  very on trend. The tips of the stalks look like little purple flowers.

MORE: This vegan french toast is our new favorite breakfast food

Asparagus pairs well with lemon and fresh herbs, so this lemon mint vinaigrette is a delicious complement. Toss in some bread crumbs for texture, strawberries for sweetness, and edible flowers for aesthetics, and the result is absolutely stunning. This salad really does look like an edible gift basket, which is why this salad is perfect for your spring holiday spreads.

So without further ado, let’s dive into the recipe.

Shaved asparagus salad

Asparagus ribbon salad with garlicky breadcrumbs and lemon mint vinaigrette

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250F. Chop bread into relatively even-sized cubes and bake until fully dried but not browned (about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how moist the bread is).
  2. Pulse dried bread in food processor until large crumbs form. Avoid overprocessing, or you will end up with bread dust.
  3. Add remaining garlicky breadcrumb ingredients to food processor and pulse until evenly mixed.

Shaved asparagus salad

  1. Blend all vinaigrette ingredients in blender until smooth.
  2. Remove lower portions of asparagus stalks. (See tip below.)
  3. Shave asparagus from top to bottom using potato peeler, starting from just below the base of the flower (tip). Set tips aside.
  4. Thinly chop remainders once they’re too difficult to shave. Slice asparagus tips down the middle lengthwise.

Shaved asparagus salad

  1. Toss prepped asparagus with strawberries, dressing, and half of breadcrumb mixture in serving dish.
  2. Pile remaining breadcrumbs on top of salad and decorate with edible flowers. Serve.

Shaved asparagus salad

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Just a few housekeeping notes

  • If possible, prepare the vinaigrette and garlicky breadcrumbs two or three days in advance so assembling the salad just before serving is easy and quick. Keep the dressing in the fridge and the breadcrumbs in an airtight container.
  • Asparagus ends are tough and not at all fun to eat. One way to remove those fibrous ends is to bend each stalk until it snaps at the natural point where it goes from fibrous to succulent. The quick approach is to do that with one stalk, and then cut the rest at a similar point. If you end up with stalks that look alive and juicy, instead of like dead branches, you’re good!

Shaved asparagus salad

Asparagus ribbon salad with garlicky breadcrumbs and lemon mint vinaigrette

Ingredients

Garlicky breadcrumbs:

  • 4–6 slices good-quality breadNote: The better the bread, the better the breadcrumbs. You don’t have to fly to France to pick up a baguette, but avoid using soft, presliced, packaged breads. Look to the bakery section of your store instead. I use La Brea Bakery Italian Round Loaf for this recipe.
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
  • 2 tablespoon nutritional yeastNote: You can sub 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese to replace the walnuts and nutritional yeast if you aren’t living a vegan lifestyle. Regardless, the walnuts and nutritional yeast are a dynamite combo!
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • Zest from 1 lemon (reserve lemon for dressing)

Lemon mint vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 bunch (about 1/2 cup) fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • Juice from 1 lemon (left over from breadcrumb prep, above)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Salad:

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • ½ cup garlicky breadcrumbs
  • ½ cup fresh strawberries, slices
  • Lemon Mint Dressing (to taste)an assortment of edible flowers*Note: Edible flowers may be hard to find locally depending on where you live. I often find them at the farmers market and sometimes at Whole Foods near the herbs. These are mainly for presentation so they are not necessary for the flavors in the recipe. Whatever you do, please do not add flowers from the florist or the grocery store! These are often sprayed with pesticides and artificial scents, and could be dangerous to your health.

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