The first time I ate raw asparagus was during the ’80s at an Italian restaurant in New York. Until then, the only asparagus I’d ever encountered was steamed and buttered, and I really liked it just that way.
Then I noticed that the vegetable in question was the centerpiece of a salad dressed with fresh lemon juice, extra-virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
I thought it might be fun to re-create that salad with a few lip-smacking extras.
First, a couple of tips about buying the star of this show. At the store, asparagus should be stored vertically, stem down in ice or water.
For this recipe, I recommend the thicker shoots. Yes, you’ll have to peel the stalk, but they’re much easier to thinly slice.
Then it’s on to the button mushrooms. Sure, they seem ordinary compared to their various designer cousins, but they’re absolutely delicious raw and they also happen to be quite affordable. Just be sure to purchase only the firmest, whitest, tightest specimens.
I’ve also tossed in some leaves of fresh flat-leaf parsley. In fact, almost any fresh herb, including parsley, basil, mint, cilantro, chives, chervil or dill, can play a similarly robust role in a salad.
Lastly, we have pistachio nuts. At only 4 calories per nut, they’re a boon to the diet-conscious. Of course, you could swap in walnuts, almonds, cashews or pecans if you wanted. They’re all sources of healthy fat.
Topped off with grilled shrimp or chicken, you could call this salad dinner.
Raw Asparagus, Mushroom And Parsley Salad With Nuts And Parmesan
Start to finish: 30 minutes
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon lemon juice
11/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 pound asparagus, tough stems trimmed and discarded (peeled if thicker than 1/3 inch)
1 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
4 ounces firm white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup pistachios or chopped toasted walnuts
1 ounce shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
In a large bowl, combine a hefty pinch of salt, some black pepper and the lemon juice. Whisk until the salt is dissolved, then add the oil in a stream, whisking. Set aside.
Lay the asparagus flat on a cutting board and slice a few stalks at a time very thin on a diagonal to create thin oblong slices. Add to the salad bowl along with the parsley, mushrooms and pistachios or walnuts. Toss well to coat with the dressing. Divide the salad among 4 serving plates and top each portion with some of the cheese.
Nutrition information per serving: 160 calories; 120 calories from fat (75 percent of total calories); 14g fat (2.5g saturated; 0g trans fats); 5mg cholesterol; 6g carbohydrate; 3g fiber; 2g sugar; 7g protein; 260mg sodium.