Monday, March 12, 2012

Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad

I love to entertain friends at my house.  It's the ultimate challenge to me- coming up with a menu that makes people feel welcome, that is easy enough to pull off so that I'm not stressed to the point of not enjoying myself, but that still pushes me to try something new.  I suppose it's like an adrenaline junkie getting ready to jump out of a plane.  You plan and prepare, but there's no telling how it will go and you can only hope it's exactly how you imagined it would be.  All you can do is take that step out of the plane (or up to the stove in my case) and enjoy the ride.

So when I decided to host a brunch last week for a few of my friends, the preparation began.  It started with a frenzy of looking through magazines, trolling Pinterest, and sifting through my favorites blogs for inspiration.  I had a basic idea of what I wanted to make pretty quickly, which included some of my own classics like a Swiss chard and leek tart and a few new recipes.  I had a gorgeous cocoa nib coffee cake from Ashley at not without salt and a blood orange and blueberry jam (I'll be sharing that recipe later this week) with biscuits and goat cheese.  I was just missing a salad and getting no inspiration whatsoever from the usual places.
I woke up the morning before the brunch with absolute certainty that asparagus would be at the center of my salad solution.  Don't ask me where the idea came from, I just knew it was right.  Once I had the beginnings of an idea, the rest just fell into place according to what I had in my fridge.  I was thrilled with the end result and my guests were pretty darn happy with it too.  A glimpse of a friend going back for seconds is always a good sign.  My (proverbial) jump from the plane was a great ride and I'm happy to report that the landing was smooth.
Shaved Asparagus and Arugula Salad
This is a very easy salad to make and absolutely captures the best of spring flavors.  It's is a bit tangy, salty and bitter and wonderfully green and light.  You can serve four with the proportions given here, but the recipe easily doubles.

1 bunch of asparagus (about 20 spears)
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
pinch of salt and pepper
large handful of arugula
Pecorino or Parmesean cheese for shaving over the salad
arugula blossoms or other edible flowers (optional, but they make the salad something special)

In a large bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil.  Add salt and pepper to taste (use less salt than you would usually as the cheese adds some saltiness as well) and whisk again.

Cut or break off the tough lower portion of the asparagus stems.  Using a sharp vegetable peeler, begin shaving off strips of asparagus turning the stem in your hand as you go.  You can also very thinly slice the asparagus lengthwise if you like.  Toss the asparagus strips along with the arugula into the bowl and mix with the dressing.  Pour the salad into a large plate and using your vegetable peeler, shave strips of cheese over the top.  If using the flowers, sprinkle them over the salad.


  1. What a GREAT idea for a special CAbi trunk show format!!! LOVED our time together and you have an amazing group of girlfriends, too!
    Thank you for planning such a special day for everyone!
    <3 shannon

    1. I'm so glad you had a wonderful time. I enjoyed every second of the day!