Shaved Asparagus Salad with Pea Shoots and Toasted Hazelnuts

It has been more than a bit of a grind to get here but I think it is safe to say that spring has finally arrived. No matter that we are closing in on the summer equinox, the weather has been downright chilly since March but along with the blooming peonies some great spring vegetables and herbs are finally beginning to make an appearance.

When I see the first spears of asparagus poking through the dirt in my neighbour’s garden I am relieved and excited. Onto a new season, they seem to say, and after the last few months I am more than ready.

As the asparagus season is a fleeting one,  I find myself coming up with any excuse to slide them into my daily menus. Steamed with just a bit of butter, salt and pepper, roasted and topped with a couple of silky slices of prosciutto and a poached egg, or mixed up to make a filling for ravioli to be topped with some brown butter sauce. So many recipes, so little time.

Here is a lovely salad that uses the springy asparagus in its purest form. Raw. The crunchy texture and woodsy flavour is fully preserved here, and is rounded out by some crisp pea shoots, a herbal hit of mint, some earthy toasted hazelnut and some salty, nutty Parmesan.

Finding myself on my own today, (Glen was working and Max was at a sleepover) I spent a glorious morning in the garden. Apart from being somewhat overwhelmed by the sheer number of weeds that must be attended to I fully relaxed into the moment and enjoyed the feel of the soil between my fingers. By noon my mind was wandering from where to move the Shasta daisies to what to have for lunch. Being on my own meant that lunch could be anything I wanted. Avocado on toast? Baguette with butter and slices of prosciutto? Some soft scrambled eggs with toast?

I was in the area of my vegetable garden near the peas with their crisp sweet tendrils climbing up the trellis and also near the mint that is spreading like a weed nearby and I remembered there was a bunch of asparagus left over from dinner on Friday night. Pea shoots, mint and asparagus. In my mind, lunch was born.

When making this salad be sure to dig out a decent vegetable peeler. I have always struggled with those swivel blade peelers that my Mom used when I was a kid. It wasn’t until I worked at the restaurant that I was introduced to Kuhn Rikon peeler. Now I am sure that everybody already knows this (I am very often late to the party with these kinds of things) but these peelers are simply the very best and easiest to use. Plus they are dirt cheap at about five bucks each. And they come in a bunch of pretty colours. They look like this:

This little peeler will make quick work of shaving the asparagus into long, silky strands. It also works like a charm when it comes to making the thin curls of Parmesan.

After my hunger inducing morning in the garden it took me all of 20 minutes to make this lunch which I ate on the front steps with a few hunks of baguette while my dog Mabel, hunched nearby, waiting to see if any scraps might miraculously fall from the plate. Even she seemed to be coveting those first of spring spears of asparagus.



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6 Responses to Shaved Asparagus Salad with Pea Shoots and Toasted Hazelnuts

  1. Tracy says:

    I’m having such a lovely time imagining how this would taste. It’s making me quite hungry.

  2. Nicole says:

    I’ve never eaten raw asparagus. What a beautiful creation!

  3. Tracy: I really love this salad. Let me know if you try it.

    Nicole: Thanks for your kind words. I have always liked asparagus raw. This recipe is great for thicker spears as they are so flavourful. And this salad is so adaptable. I have added arugula in place of the pea shoots, aged Gouda or Pecorino in place of the Parmesan and almost any kind of toasted nut works well.

  4. Leslie says:

    Sounds delicious! I would like to sit next to you on your front steps and enjoy it together!

  5. style fare says:

    Hi Julie! You are a girl after my own heart. Not only have I been living off of shaved asparagus salads this spring, I also love my Kuhn Rikon peelers (I have 3! Necessary? No. Pretty? Yes!).

    Here’s my version: – take care!

  6. Leslie: We should do just that when I get back from my trip!

    Style Fare: Your version looks so creamy and tasty! It is now on the top of my list, maybe alongside some lamb chops too.

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