This bright green salad is fresh, crisp, tangy and screams spring!
Spring has sprung! Outside of my son’s chilly evening baseball games where Ugg boots are necessary evil, I’ve optimistically packed away the winter coats and pulled out the light jackets. My yard is dotted with yellow daffodils and wild spring onions and my hay fever is in full swing. Normally I’d be complaining about my swollen eyes and frequent sneezes, but after this extended play winter, I’m taking my overactive sinuses as a sign of hope instead of despair.
So I’m full steam ahead into spring which for me translates into lots of green, including big, crunchy salads and loads of dishes with peas and asparagus. Perhaps I’m influenced by all the little green buds opening and unfolding on the once bare limbs and branches. Or maybe it’s the produce section teeming with lush, leafy greens and taut bunches of asparagus. Or maybe it’s all of the above. In any case, I’m all about the green right now.
Today’s shaved asparagus and spinach salad is just that…all about the green. Raw asparagus is shaved into ribbons and tossed with baby spinach and handfuls of fresh herbs. I’ve added some crispy pancetta bits for texture and flavor and doused it all in a lemony yogurt dressing. I toyed with the idea of adding some crumbled goat cheese, but after scarfing down several mouthfuls, I determined it wasn’t necessary and it would detract instead of enhance this bright, tangy salad.
Now I have an ongoing love affair with asparagus tips, so I trim and blanch them before adding them to the salad because I prefer them intact, but go ahead and shave the whole spear if you feel like skipping a step. Also a tip on shaving those stalks, place an asparagus spear on the flat handle of kitchen utensil or at the edge of the counter so you can peel it with ease. Your last strip will be a little thicker, so toss it into the scrap pile as it may be unpalatable for the raw salad (you can use the scraps for soup!). Happy spring!
- 4 oz pancetta, cut into a 1/4 inch dice
- 1 bunch fresh asparagus
- 1/4 cup fresh chives, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh mint, minced
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, minced
- 5-6 cups baby spinach
- 1/4 cup greek yogurt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 small lemon, zested and juiced
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- pinch of sugar
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Place the pancetta in a small non-stick saute pan set over medium heat. Cook until browned and crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Reserve.
Trim the woody ends from the asparagus and cut off the tips. Throw away the woody ends and reserve the tips.
Bring a small pot of salted water to a boil and add the tips. Blanch until bright green and barely tenders, about 2 mins. Plunge the blanched tips into ice water to stop the cooking and then drain.
Use a vegetable peeler to shave the asparagus stalks into very thin strips. Place the asparagus stalk at the edge of the counter or on top of the handle of kitchen spoon or spatula for easy shaving.
Toss the shaved asparagus, spinach, and herbs together. Drizzle with desired amount of dressing and toss (you may have dressing left over that you can serve on the side.
Scatter the salad with the cooked and cooled pancetta. Enjoy!
Whisk all of the ingredients except the olive oil tighter until well blended.
Add the oil in a slow and steady stream while whisking briskly. Continue whisking until the dressing is homogenized. Alternatively, blend in a small food processor or mini prep.