Monday, May 24, 2010

A Reinvention - Asparagus Salad - Raw & Roasted

I was talking with a friend recently about reinvention, and how often and unexpectedly it happens. Like that song you've heard so many times...the one that takes on a whole new light when it happens to be the one playing in the background when you have your first kiss with someone you eventually grow to love. The last dish you make for your Grandfather. The stretch of beach where a dear friend is married.

Those things become the maps to our inner-lives. The markers of where and who we were, until something happens to change the way we see or think about something.

It's funny, how those things happen so unexpectedly. All it takes is one memory associated with a previously innocuous thing, and suddenly it's endowed with meaning and memory. It's why I never skip a certain Pearl Jam or Elliott Smith song when they make their way through my headphones, and why just seeing the words "Shrimp Louie" on a menu can make me tear up. It's both lovely, and bittersweet. You never know what that unsuspecting object, song or dish might become to you in the future.

It's spring in the Bay Area, and that means asparagus at the farmer's market. Last year I was all about the thick purple stocks, this year, I'm leaning towards the pencil-thin green ones. The normal go-to recipe is to roast the whole bunch, but I was feeling adventurous. I decided to try a salad of asparagus two ways: roasted and raw, tossed with lemon and olive oil, and shaved Parmesan mixed in. Skeptical of raw asparagus? So was I. But don't pass it up. I used a vegetable peeler to peel off long, thin strips. The combination is surprising and delicious. Asparagus...but reinvented.

Asparagus Salad - Raw & Roasted

1 bunch asparagus
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces or so shaved Parmesan
sea salt & freshly ground pepper
fresh lemon zest for garnish

Pre-heat the oven to 425. Roast about 2/3 of the bunch of asparagus for about 20 minutes, until the ends are crispy and brown. Peel the other 1/3 of the bunch into long strips using a vegetable peeler. Whisk the lemon juice and olive oil together with a fork. Once the roasted asparagus is done, toss both roasted and raw together in a bowl with the vinaigrette. Plate, and top with shaved Parmesan, sea salt, pepper and lemon zest.

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