Asparagus Salad with Breadcrumbs, Walnuts and Mint. I’m always on the lookout for new types of salads, so when I saw the headline “This Portland Cookbook Might Put Meat Out of Business. It’s That Good.” I jumped on it. Also because it’s Josh McFadden’s (chef at Ava Gene’s) cookbook coming out next month. The book “Six Seasons” has a look inside preview on Amazon and that’s where I found this recipe. The book looks really nice and I think I’ll probably get it. I’m not a vegetarian but I love side dishes or meals where the vegetables are so good you really don’t miss the meat. You might remember I’ve tried to recreate a couple of salads from Ava Gene’s, a Pear Fennel Salad and a Celery Salad. And speaking of celery salad I have a new favorite variation, it’s so simple I’m not sure it needs a whole blog post, but it’s basically chopped celery, feta, olive oil and salt. It’s best when using feta that comes in a block held in a brine. The pre crumbled feta I’ve been using forever just doesn’t have the flavor or texture of the real thing.
The original recipe called for raw asparagus (the early spring tender variety), but I decided to do a quick blanch for mine since the stalks were on the larger size. The flavors are really good in this salad with the addition of mint.
I enjoyed photographing the asparagus. It has a unique look of color and textures. I started out with 105mm macro lens but switched to my 35mm, which I love, it’s such a great lens, very versatile for up close shots (Minimum Focus Distance 9.8”) as well as landscape. The sun started pouring in while I was shooting which was a real treat because we’ve had a very long dark winter/early spring. Some cloudy days are preferable for photography, but when it’s really really dark it can be a bit tricky getting a good exposure without using additional photography lighting. Well here it is, hope you enjoy the photos and recipe.
Asparagus Salad with Breadcrumbs, Walnuts and Mint
- 1/3 cup dried breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese
- 1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- Salt and pepper
- Dried chili flakes
- 1 pound asparagus
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 cup mint leaves
- Extra-virgin olive oil
Prepare the asparagus by snapping off the tough ends of the asparagus, then peel the asparagus about half way down on the stalk with a vegetable peeler. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with cold water and ice. Fill a large pot with water and a handful of salt, then bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and blanch for 2- 3 minutes until bright green and fragrant. Remove and immediately place in prepared ice bath. When the asparagus has cooled set aside on a dish.
Put the breadcrumbs, parmigiana, walnuts and lemon zest in a large bowl. Add 1 teaspoon salt, fresh ground black pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes. Toss to combine.
Cut the asparagus on sharp angles and add to crumb mixture. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss. Taste and adjust flavor with more salt, pepper, chili flakes or lemon juice. (I ended up using the juice of one whole lemon)
Add the mint and 1/4 cup olive oil, toss until combined. Taste again (he’s all about the taste testing as you go along and build the flavors!)
Adapted from Six Seasons