Sunday, September 19, 2010

Asparagus Salad

When I was a junior in high school, our food service program started Taste of Konawaena, an evening food festival of student-cooked dishes, for the public to enjoy. My senior year, I prepared an asparagus salad, and won first prize in appetizer and the people’s choice award. It’s still one of my favorite composed salads. Recipe follows.

Asparagus Salad:

1 pound thin asparagus, tough ends broken off, then cut or snapped into 1 inch pieces (if you want to make it really pretty, you can cut the stalks on a diagonal)

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

3 tablespoons olive oil

4 hard boiled eggs, sliced into circles (or ovals, whatever tickles your fancy)

4 hearts of palm, sliced into circles

Salt and fresh cracked pepper

Pecorino-romano, grated

Combine olive oil and garlic in a saute pan with a pinch of salt. Cook on medium heat until the garlic is dancing in the pan and smells cooked, about a minute. If you were to taste it, the garlic would be soft and aromatic, not crispy. Turn the heat on low, add the asparagus pieces and another pinch of salt and a grind of pepper and cook for a few minutes, until the asparagus is bright green and the center of the stalk is no longer bright white. If you were to taste the asparagus, it would be crisp and not stringy. Remove from heat immediately.

Arrange the salad on four plates, with one egg, one heart of palm, and a quarter of the asparagus on each plate. Play with circles and lines and the beautiful asparagus tips, and make it pretty. Scatter a few grinds of black pepper on the top and sprinkle with grated pecorino-romano.

(Feeds four as an salad course, or one hungry Ma’ayan who is craving asparagus, though I only used one egg and two hearts of palm for my single dish)