Roasted Asparagus; Arugula and Shallot Vinaigrette

August 28, 2008


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I' ve mentioned it before, but Patricia Wells' book, “Vegetables Harvest”is one of the best places to look for fresh, simple vegetable dishes. Most of what Wells recommends includes a bit of olive oil, fleur de sel, high quality cheese and organic produce. None of the recipes is more than a few lines long, highlighting the value of simply prepared, high quality ingredients—a combination that really does pay off. I served this salad before steak and mushroom ragout. The pungency of the arugula tempered by the sweet, roasted asparagus and salty cheese was a great opener for the rich, earthy flavors of meat and mushrooms. This could also be a great side dish for a rich fish like salmon or swordfish, though the flavors might overpower a lighter meat.

Here' s how it goes (for 4)

Make vinaigrette:

In a small jar with lid mix 1/3 c minced shallot (2 large) with 2 tablespoons best quality sherry wine vinegar and 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice. Add the zest of 1 lemon (organic) with a pinch of sea salt. * Shake jar to dissolve salt. * Add 1/3 c extra virgin olive oil and shake again. * Store refrigerated and shake before each use to emulsify.

Bake a pound of fresh, green asparagus (ends trimmed) at 450 degrees. To do this, arrange asparagus in a pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Drizzle with 2 tbsp vinaigrette and sprinkle with coarse salt. Roll the asparagus in the vinaigrette to coat, and sprinkle with 2 tbsp water to keep asparagus from drying in the pan. * Roast about 12 minutes.

In the meantime, combine 6 cups of arugula and ΒΌ c finely chopped, fresh chives in a large bowl on top of 3 tbsp vinaigrette. * Coat the greens with your fingers—add more dressing if necessary, but do not over-dress. * Transfer to individual dinner plates.

When the asparagus is cooked, layer spears on top of the arugula and cover each bowl with a few shavings of good parmesan and sprinklings of fleur de sel.

I made this salad with ½ as much arugula but with the full serving of asparagus for just two people. It was very good since we' re both asparagus lovers—if you' re serving this as a side dish rather than a starter salad, I would recommend doing the same.

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