Asparagus Salad

Asparagus Salad with Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese

We adored this vibrant, flavor-filled salad when we first tasted it many years ago as a contribution to our Thanksgiving Buffet. But clearly this colorful salad is not just a once-a-year addition to a menu. Whenever you find fresh asparagus, the Asparagus Salad with Roasted Peppers and Goat Cheese will take center stage. Many thanks to Judi and her daughter who acquired the recipe while prepping for chef Gary Danko.

My research on this versatile vegetable unearthed the following bits of useful info. I knew that asparagus came in three sizes: pencil-thin, medium and jumbo. I did not know that the thickness of the asparagus does not indicate maturity; a thin asparagus spear does not grow into a fat one. Consider using each size for different purposes: thin for stir frys, jumbo for roasting, grilling or simply steamed, and medium in any way you like.  

Cutting the spears is fine as long as you take care to remove the woody ends. How to do that? I prefer snapping off tough asparagus bottoms at the natural bending point. The spear should break at a place where the asparagus has begun to lose its moisture. Yes, you’ll have spears of slightly different lengths, but you’re guaranteed no tough ends when you sit down to eat.

To peel or not? I didn’t know that the skin on larger asparagus spears doesn’t soften with cooking. So, it’s best to peel the lower stalks of medium or fat spears, both green and purple. Always, sources indicate, peel white asparagus. Simply use a vegetable peeler to lightly remove the skin halfway down the stem. Always keep the tips in tact.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs medium asparagus, tough ends removed
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp capers, drained
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp chopped tarragon or dill
  • 1 garlic clove, very finely chopped
  • ½ small red onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz soft mild goat cheese
  • 12 Nicoise or Calamata olives, pitted and chopped
  • Shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)

Directions

  1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the asparagus until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes; transfer to a colander and refresh under cold water. Drain and pat dry.
  2. Roast the peppers directly over a gas flame or under the broiler, turing, until charred all over. Transfer to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let steam for 10 minutes. Peel the peppers and cut them into ¼ inch thick strips.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together the vinegar, capers, mustard, tarragon, garlic and onion; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil.
  4. Arrange the asparagus on a serving platter. Lay the roasted pepper strips over the asparagus and drizzle with half of the vinaigrette. Crumble the goat cheese on top. Garnish with the chopped olives and the Parmigiano shavings and serve, passing the remaining vinaigrette at the table.

8 Servings

Make ahead – The recipe can be prepared through step 3 up to 8 hours ahead. Refrigerate the asparagus, peppers and vinaigrette separately.

Asparagus Salad

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