This past month the Full Belly Farm CSA box has supplied us with nonstop asparagus. Most of the time I kept the asparagus raw and added fennel, piave cheese, and tons of meyer lemon and caper vinaigrette. Dash and Bella scarfed up this salad. My mother-in-law loved it. I ate it almost every day for a week. Here's what I learned:
- The meyer lemon caper vinaigrette is even better when it's a day or two old.
- The vinaigrette works well as a marinade for chicken or fish (cod or halibut).
- After trimming the asparagus stalks, it's better to peel them up to the base of the tips, especially if you're eating them raw.
- Slice your fennel at the very last minute or it will turn brown. Everything else in this salad can be prepped ahead of time.
- Buy a mandoline. Use the guard. At least for a little while.
- Buy some piave (Italian cow's milk cheese). It reminds me of a young parmesan. It's hard but still smooth in your mouth. It's sweet, easy to slice, and genius in a salad.
ASPARAGUS, FENNEL, AND PIAVE CHEESE SALAD WITH MEYER LEMON CAPER VINAIGRETTE: printable recipe
Slice the fennel at the last minute or it will turn brown.
Feeds 1-2 with some dressing left over.
- 1 shallot, diced
- 1/2 anchovy plus a little of the oil, finely chopped (optional)
- 1/2 meyer lemon (or regular lemon), juice plus zest
- 1 teaspoon white wine or champagne vinegar
- 1 tablespoon capers with some of the juice
- 2 teaspoons dijon mustard (I always use creamy Grey Poupon)
- about 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (a strong olive oil works well)
- 10-12 stalks of asparagus, ends trimmed, peeled up to the base of the tips, and thinly sliced on an angle
- 1 medium-sized head of fennel, very thinly sliced (paper thin with mandoline if possible)
- a few sprigs of fennel fronds, coarsely chopped or torn
- 20 or so strips of piave cheese (or parmesan), very thinly sliced (works well with a vegetable peeler)
- crunchy salt
Place shallot and anchovy (if using) in a bowl. Add lemon juice + zest, vinegar, capers + juice, and set aside for 10 minutes. Add mustard. Slowly whisk in olive oil. Taste. Add a bit more of whatever flavor is lacking. Maybe more lemon, or anchovy or olive oil. Set aside. It will keep for a week in the fridge.
Combine asparagus, fennel, and fennel fronds. Add salt and pepper. Toss with some of the vinaigrette. Taste. This salad absorbs a lot of dressing so be prepared to add more. Sprinkle cheese over the top and gently toss once more. Serve immediately.