Asparagus and Mandarin Orange Salad

Cloe up image of Asparagus and Mandarin Orange Salad in a serving bowl
Great for a Spring day!

Was there ever a time that you didn't like asparagus? When I was a kid it seemed to be one of those vegetables, like peas, that I could easily do without. Then I tasted asparagus in a salad -- it was bright green, a little crunchy and, well,  kind of sweet. What a difference! I didn't realize that the asparagus (and the peas) I had years ago was over-cooked. It was soggy, flavorless and a most unappealing shade of olive drab. 

I think it was in the 80's when asparagus became mainstream. We all learned how to cook vegetables properly. Suddenly they were crunchy, brightly colored and the nutrients were still there. Better still, they tasted great! Oh, I just discovered another reason to remember the 80's fondly! Before this my recall of that decade was Madonna, fern bars, and really big hair!

As usual, I encourage you to change it up a bit. Make it yours and use whatever dressing you like. I like this lightly dressed with lemon and olive oil dressing so the recipe is included.

Time: 30 minutes
Level: Easy
Yield: Serves 4

Asparagus beng trimmed for the saladAsparagus shown cut on the diagonal before cookingIngredients

3 cups Salad greens (I used equal parts hearts of romaine and fresh spinach).
1 bunch of very thin asparagus
1 small can of mandarin oranges, drained  (1 fresh tangerine works nicely, too)
1/4 cup slivered almonds, lightly toasted

1/4 cup olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/8 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash the salad greens and asparagus. Let drain.
Drain the mandarin oranges.
In a small frying pan, on medium heat, toast the almonds until fragrant and almost golden.
In a sauce pan bring 24 ounces of water to a boil.
Cooked asparagus in the water bath to halt cooking
While the water is heating up, trim the tough ends off the asparagus. This is usually the whitest part of the spear. If you're not sure where to cut, bend the thick end off one spear and see where it breaks naturally. You can use that as a guide. Cut the asparagus diagonally into 1 1/2 inch pieces.
Drop into boiling water and set a timer for 2 minutes. As you can see, I used the very thin asparagus. If you have thicker spears, adjust the cooking time. Just boil a few first and start checking it at the 2 minute mark. Check every 30-45 seconds thereafter (it should be bright green, still have some crunch). When you're sure of the timing, boil the rest.

Fill a large bowl with very cold water and leave in or near your sink. When the asparagus is done , drain and immediately plunge into the cold water to stop the cooking. Once completely cool, drain and pat dry.
Lemon dressing on the measuring cup. A little goes a long way!
Make the dressing by combining all of the ingredients in a measuring cup (or small bowl) and whisk until emulsified.

Tear the greens into small pieces. In a large bowl add the greens and asparagus. Drizzle with dressing and mix thoroughly. Finally, add the mandarin orange slices and almonds before giving it one last (gentle) toss. Pick out your prettiest bowl and you're ready to serve.

1 comment:

  1. I think this could become my new "go -to" spring salad! Sounds wonderful!