"Asparagus are well known cooked, but this Shaved Asparagus Salad with Fennel is a raw presentation that is not only delicious, but it also's refreshingly nutritious, and super quick to make"
The Story Behind Shaved Asparagus Salad with Fennel
"You can't eat raw asparagus, they're too fibrous and tough," he said
No, they are not, and yes you can! And in this Shaved Asparagus Salad with Fennel, you will see just how tender and tasty they can be.
The Star - Asparagus
While you may be able to get asparagus year-round, they are a spring vegetable with its stalks breaking ground in early spring. The thickness of the stalk is a sign of the age of the plant or crown; thinner stalks come from older plants and thicker stalks from younger ones. Or so they say. We recently planted our first asparagus crowns and this year, year three, have been enjoying the fruits of our labor. Right now they are coming up sporadically, some thick, some thin, so I'm not sure if what they "say" is true. Only time will tell.
As a funny aside, when BB and I moved into our first house, there was a rather abundant thick stand of asparagus plants in the yard, which we promptly tore out. Along with fresh horseradish plants. Now I say ouch, then I said "lawn". Ah yes, the American dream, and how it changes over time.
Mr. Baker, busy working at tearing out all those beautiful asparagus plants.
Asparagus is so good for you too. Full of vitamins, such as vitamins K, C, A, E, B, and minerals such as copper, selenium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, zinc, manganese, and choline. It's a natural diuretic too, so it helps with bloat and swelling. And yes, it's normal to "smell" asparagus in your urine.
Asparagus is well known cooked, but this raw presentation is not only delicious, but it's also refreshing.
There are a few recipes out there for asparagus salads, using either shaved asparagus or thinly sliced asparagus. I like the look of the shaved asparagus. Obviously, thicker stalks work better than thinner ones, with more "meat" to them. If you can only get thin asparagus, then I would go with the "thinly sliced on a bias" method. If you are able to get thick stalks, I found using a Y-peeler worked best for shaving them as your hand remains out of the way. When I used the swivel peeler, I had to place the asparagus at the edge of my cutting board, otherwise, I couldn't peel the stalk all the way down. When I did get to a point where I was no longer able to "shave" the stalk, I thinly slice it on a diagonal along with the tips and added it all to the mix.
The Supporting Cast
This salad also includes fennel, another great spring vegetable, and red onion slices. Onions, in their raw form, tend to be a bit harsh on the palate. Soaking them in ice water for about 10 - 15 minutes removes that raw harsh flavor, so I always give my raw onion a quick soak. I like to add salt to the water to add some infused flavor while they soak. While I had my bowl of ice water sitting there I thought, why not add the shaved asparagus and raw fennel slices to the mix as well?
It worked beautifully. The ice water kept everything fresh, took the pungent odor, and harshness out of the onion and the added salt put a little flavor right into the vegetables. Once they had their ice water bath, I rinsed them under cold water and spun them dry in my salad spinner (you could also use the old fashioned way my grandmother used, tie the veggies in a clean tea towel and go outside and spin it around, water flying everywhere until they are dry).
Once the vegetables are all nice and dry add the fresh lemon juice and parsley; toss them all around and then add the extra virgin olive oil. This is a great time to use a really good flavorful olive oil, you won't need to add nearly as much oil, and the flavor of fine olive oil is so preferred over most commercial brands. Not that there aren't any great commercially produced olive oils, but there are. You just need to know which one to buy, but I live in Sonoma County, so we have all kinds of Artesian extra virgin olive oils to choose from. If you've never gone olive oil tasting, you really should. It's a real education in how complex these oils can be. From grassy, to peppery. This might be a good time to use a lemon-infused oil.
Once you taste and adjust for salt and pepper, you're done. With a healthy, delicious, easy-to-make, low-fat, Shaved Asparagus Salad with Fennel.
LindySez: They say you can't pair asparagus with any wines. Well, what they say is wrong. When I roast asparagus with olive oil and thyme, they pair nicely with a light red, or even a Cabernet Sauvignon if the protein is supporting that. With this presentation, our wine recommendation is a Sauvignon Blanc. Pick your style, from the grassy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc to a California Sauv Blanc showing more bright lemon fruit.
Shaved Asparagus Salad with Fennel
- 1 pound thick fresh asparagus trimmed
- ½ large fennel bulb plus some chopped fennel fronds (the feathery top)
- ½ large red onion
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley preferably Italian leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon best fruity extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Additional lemon wedges to serve, if desired
- Put about a quart of water into a large bowl; add 1 tablespoon of salt and stir to dissolve. Add 1 cup of ice cubes.
- Using a vegetable peeler, holding on to the tip, shave the trimmed asparagus stems into ribbons, the tip will come off as you shave the asparagus, cut the tip into half lengthwise. (if you can only get thinner asparagus, slice them into 1 to 2 inch thin diagonal slices). As you make your ribbons, add them to the ice water.
- Core the fennel then slice into thin slices; add to the ice water. Slice the onion into thin slices; add to the ice water. Wait 10 minutes, then drain the vegetable and dry them well.
- Add the lemon juice, fennel fronds, and parsley; toss to coat, then drizzle in the olive oil, toss well. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Serve pretty much immediately.