Appetizer inspires asparagus salad

Grilled Asparagus, Farfalline and Prosciutto Salad.

Asparagus and prosciutto often appear together as an appetizer, with the ham wrapped around the asparagus. It always has struck me as a little fussy, so I’ve taken the combo and made it even more flavorful.

Make ahead: The asparagus can be blanched up to 8 hours in advance, wrapped and refrigerated until you are ready to grill. The salad is best served on the day it is made, but it can be assembled up to 2 hours in advance, then covered and refrigerated.

6 servings Ingredients Salt 1 pound asparagus spears, tough ends trimmed

2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil Freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces dried farfalline (mini bow-tie pasta) or any small dried pasta

2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, preferably prosciutto di Parma, cut into thin 1-inch-long strips

About 20 large basil leaves, cut into thin 1/2-inch strips

Directions Have a large bowl of ice water at hand. Fill a medium straight-sided skillet with 1 to 2 inches of lightly salted water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Add the asparagus. Once the water returns to a boil, cook the asparagus until just tender but still firm: 1 to 2 minutes for thin spears, 3 to 4 minutes for medium-thick ones and 5 to 6 minutes for very thick ones.

Use tongs or a large slotted spoon to immediately transfer the asparagus to the ice-water bath; cool there for about 5 minutes, then pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel. At this point, the asparagus can be wrapped in dry paper towels and refrigerated for up to 8 hours.

Prepare the grill for direct-heat cooking. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for about 4 or 5 seconds. Lightly coat a grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.

Arrange the asparagus on a shallow plate and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the oil, then season with salt and pepper to taste, rolling to coat them evenly. Arrange in a single layer on the grill. Cover and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then use tongs to turn the asparagus. Cover and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. The finished spears will have taken on nice grill marks but should not be burned. Transfer to a clean plate to cool, then cut the spears into 1-inch lengths.

Cook the farfalline according to the package directions. Pour the pasta into a colander and immediately rinse it with cold water.Combine the asparagus, farfalline, prosciutto and basil in a large bowl and mix with 1 tablespoon of oil. Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. If the salad is dry, add 1 tablespoon of oil. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 2 hours.