Sesame Asparagus

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Pires do Rio Nothing says SPRING to me like asparagus, when it finally shows itself at the farmers markets here in Seattle. As much as I love all the root vegetables available week after week during the cold winter months, when I spot asparagus for sale at the produce stalls I know we are on our way to more and more and more wonderful fruits and veggies. YAY!

This year U.S. supermarkets might have less asparagus available due to a diminished supply from Peru and Mexico (colder weather in Mexico). Happily, this won’t affect my local farmers markets, where the spears are grown nearby – just east of the Cascade Mountains.

There are varying opinions on how to select the best asparagus. In my humble opinion – the thinner the better. I find that the thicker stalks don’t have as much flavor as the thinner ones – plus they’re just never as tender as the pencil-thin stalks. Many disagree with me, touting the virtues of thicker asparagus. I guess it’s just a personal preference!

I’ve already decided that my first dish of the season in 2013 will be an asparagus salad – room temperature, of course. I rarely like vegetables super chilled – to me room temperature or warmer brings out more of the flavor. This salad pairs beautifully with roasted chicken thighs or simple fish.

And I’m not giving up those root vegetables just yet – they just will be a delicious accompaniment to this lovely vegetable salad.

Asparagus Avocado Salad with Citrus Sesame Dressing

Serves 4

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Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 large bunch of thin fresh asparagus-about 1 ½ pounds
  • 2 large ripe avocados, flesh cut in pieces 1 ½ inch x ½ inch
  • ½ cup almonds, toasted and very coarsely chopped or halved
  • 1 yellow or orange pepper, cut into 1 ½ inch long thin slivers
  • 2-3 Tbsp toasted white sesame seeds
Dressing Ingredients
  • 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp sea salt and 10 grinds of fresh black pepper
  • Honey to taste – about 2 tsp
Instructions

Start the same way you do for marinated asparagus. Note, I usually simmer the asparagus for only 2 minutes if they are really thin.

Snap off the ends opposite the tips of the asparagus. Unless the stalks are pencil thin, I peel the stems with a veggie peeler (if thin, you can omit peeling), put in large deep sauté pan with an inch of water. (My sauté pan is 11 inches in diameter.) Bring to a boil, and lower to medium heat for 5-7 minutes until the asparagus is bright green and barely tender when pierced with a fork. Leave the top off the fry pan when doing this. Remove the stalks of asparagus and put into ice water and let sit for 5 minutes. This stops the cooking and quickly cools the vegetables. Place the stalks onto a dry dish towel, making sure the water is absorbed, and then put in a sealed bag or container.

When ready to serve, cut the asparagus into 1 ½ inch pieces and place in a bowl with avocados, peppers and almonds. Combine the dressing ingredients (I put all the dressing ingredients in a jar and just shake it to combine). The dressing is rather thin. Taste and adjust the sweetness or saltiness to your palate) and toss gently through salad. Place into a serving bowl and sprinkle the top with sesame seeds. Serve at once.

You cannot dress this salad ahead of time because the asparagus will turn dull green or brown.

Alternately, I have swapped out the peppers with sliced oranges or even red grapefruit slices.

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2 Responses to Sesame Asparagus

  1. Kay Klass says:

    I, too, prefer thin asparagus. Can’t wait to try this-looks yummy!

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