Julie Groshong loves asparagus.
But the student chef at Johnson County Community College knows the delicate spring vegetable doesn’t make everyone’s favorites list. So sometimes she disguises it, as in this salad that uses thinly shaved asparagus ribbons.
“If it’s in a different shape, people who don’t think they like asparagus are willing to try it,” she said. “It works for both kids and adults.”
Groshong ordered a similar salad while on vacation, with the asparagus cut into rounds. She took the idea of raw asparagus, decided to shave it instead of slicing it into rounds, and added ingredients that she likes to create her own tasty salad.
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Toasted walnuts give a smoky flavor and crunch to the salad, while the red onion adds both flavor and color. She likes adding cheese to everything, which made the Pecorino Romano a must.
It’s great to take to a potluck, or serve as a side dish when guests come for dinner.
• Spanish chorizo, which is used in this recipe, is cured and doesn’t need to be cooked. But because chorizo is also available as fresh sausage, read the label carefully to make sure you’re getting the cured product.
• Add the croutons just before serving; otherwise they’ll be soggy instead of crisp.
• Asparagus is best when it’s fresh, fresh, fresh. Buy the asparagus the day you plan to serve the salad.
• You can compose the salad and make it a work of art, or mix it in a bowl for family-style serving.
Remove casing from chorizo. Slice thin, then cut slices into small strips.
Remove tough stems from asparagus and shave into strips with a vegetable peeler. Place in bowl; cover with cold water; add juice from half lemon and stir.
Peel fennel bulb; slice into very thin slices. Tear romaine heart into bite-size pieces and mix with sliced fennel. Add red onion to fennel and romaine mixture. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut French bread into small cubes. Toss with olive oil to coat, add red pepper flakes, basil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss again to coat. Spread cubes on a cookie sheet; place in preheated oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until crunchy. Remove from oven; set aside to cool.
Place large chopped walnuts on cookie sheet and toast in 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes; set aside to cool.
Mix together red wine vinegar, grape seed oil, agave nectar, Dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk, then add flat leaf parsley. Set aside.
Drain asparagus. Toss with red onion, fennel and romaine mixture. Add cheese shavings and chorizo. Toss with vinaigrette to coat. Just before serving, add toasted walnuts and croutons to the top of the salad and sprinkle with chive sticks to garnish.Per serving: 564 calories (69 percent from fat), 45 grams total fat (11 grams saturated), 54 milligrams cholesterol, 20 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 767 milligrams sodium, 8 grams dietary fiber.