The First Mess // healthy vegan recipes for every season »

Masthead header

asparagus salad + sesame chili lime dressing


Spring vegetables are starting to come up in a more prevalent way in and around southern Ontario. On a late night/early morning trip to this place last week, I started noticing the big waxy boxes that read “Ontario Asparagus” on the side with the Foodland logo, shuffling their way through on big carts, palettes of lifting jacks, backs of trucks etc. There’s rhubarb, green garlic and wild leeks, little spring onions and lettuces, super fresh with minerality and an unmistakeable green-ness. It’s starting to really happen.

I find the recommended initial preparations of these first-of-the-season gems tend to be quite mild, soft and non-intrusive. All of the mags show the vegetables lightly blanched or maybe roasted with salt and pepper. Adorned with a poached egg, a whisper of parmesan, a couple chopped mint leaves, a delicate drizzle of olive oil. Not too much fuss. The overarching goal seems to be a genuine savouring of the earth’s first offering of the year, basking in its true nature. I am on board with that, trust.

After my initial taste of first-asparagus and that “oh wow” moment, when the sweetness hits, the shock of perfectly crisp-tender, fresh, vegetal perfection kicks in… I start to get a little bored with the usual steamed/roasted/grilled olive oil, salt, and pepper routine. I love simplicity when dealing with fresh food. It is gratifying in its unraveling of meal time, cutting to the chase of satiety. Sometimes I want to go in a different direction though. I’m in love with the prettiness of asparagus in long, elegant ribbons. The crisp sweetness and perfect potential for salads is right there so I went with it.

I made up a punchy vinaigrette with chili paste, lime, toasted sesame oil, ginger and garlic. Mega flavour town. Tossed it all up with the asparagus, some shredded cabbage, green onions, fresh mint and salty, crunchy peanuts. I know it seems like a lot going on for the tender, still-new asparagus but believe me, it can take the heat. The sweetness is all the more prevalent in this combination, the lime and heat from chili really bringing it to the forefront. The acid from the lime is strong without imparting too much flavour and the toasted sesame oil/peanut combo brings it all back to earth. It’s certainly a fresh and lively way to go forth into spring.

asparagus salad with sesame chili & lime dressing
serves: 2-4
notes: If you’re making this ahead, save the mint slicing and dressing-tossing for the end, right before serving. The acid in the dressing can render the thin asparagus less crisp and mint tends to go dark post-slicing.

dressing:
1 small clove of garlic, minced
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated/minced finely
zest and juice of 1 lime
2 tsp chili paste
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey
1 tbsp rice vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp grapeseed or other neutral oil

1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and stalks peeled into ribbons
small handful of grated cabbage (red, green, napa, savoy etc)
3 sprigs of mint, leaves removed and finely sliced
2-3 green onions, finely sliced
1/3 cup peanuts, toasted and roughly chopped

Make the dressing: combine the ginger, garlic, lime zest, lime juice, chili paste, agave nectar, rice vinegar, salt and pepper  in a jar or tupperware dish with a tight fitting lid. Stir to dissolve the salt and combine everything. Add the sesame and grapeseed oils. Put a lid on top and shake mixture vigorously to combine. Set aside.

Combine the ribboned asparagus, cabbage, sliced mint and green onions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top and toss to combine with your hands or tongs. Place salad on a serving plate and garnish with the chopped peanuts and a bit more chopped mint if you like. Serve and enjoy.

You might also like…

cauliflower “couscous” salad + falling back in

Couscous! The food so nice, they named it twice. Except this isn’t couscous. It’s cauliflower in a funnyView full post »

bloody mary salad + caesars?

Tomatoes have been on for a while and I couldn’t be happier. I know everyone goes gaga over the heirlooms (theView full post »

healthy, summer feeling: broccoli, basil + avocado toss

Summer breezes really do make me feel fine. Maybe that’s a bit hokey, but it’s completely true. TheView full post »

pin it subscribe tweet this post share on facebook email to a friend
sarah02/05/2012 - 3:23 pm

This is a lovely salad. I’ve been stuck on beets and haven’t eaten any asparagus yet this spring! I better get on that. Beautiful photos as always, Ms. Laura.

erin02/05/2012 - 3:24 pm

This is the perfect salad to add to my asparagus kick! How lovely!

Shelley02/05/2012 - 3:55 pm

I am so jealous of you and my other foodie friends across the web… I have yet to get asparagus at my farmers market! Can you believe it? And, I’m in California… I thought we were the lucky ones to have produce whenever, wherever!! Alas, no. I heard rumblings that it will show this Sunday and I cannot wait! This looks amazing. I think it will contribute nicely in my quest to OD on asparagus… :-)

Jeanine02/05/2012 - 6:02 pm

Yum, I love the flavor punch!

Nico02/05/2012 - 7:54 pm

I am also just now seeing asparagus for the first time this season! The tiny spears could not be more perfect and I love simple applications like this for them.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar02/05/2012 - 10:14 pm

This salad is lovely! So pretty!

Ashlae02/05/2012 - 10:31 pm

I, too, get bored of roasted asparagus. Actually, I had it last night and all I could think about was how much more I would enjoy it raw. Anyhow, this salad looks delicious. And freaking beautiful. I’m a huge fan of ribboned asparagus and cannot wait to give this a try.

[…] Asparagus Salad with Sesame Chili Lime Dressing from Laura of The First Mess […]

Vicky03/05/2012 - 8:31 am

This sounds delicious! Love the combination of flavors here!

Marissa | Pinch&Swirl03/05/2012 - 12:53 pm

That last photo won me over; I must make this. The salad looks perfectly refreshing and I love the peanuts for crunch.

Kelsey03/05/2012 - 1:57 pm

Reminds me of my time in SE Asia, a bit. Love love love.

Cookie and Kate03/05/2012 - 7:24 pm

This post is killing me, Laura. The recipe and the way you describe it… perfection. I always feel so clunky, searching for the right words to describe flavors, but you nailed it. I can’t get enough asparagus lately, and ribbons of it are my favorite. It’s already too hot to crank up the oven for roasting, so salads are the best I can do (I’m not complaining).

Kim03/05/2012 - 7:47 pm

This asparagus salad is SO beautiful. I am going to make it–my farmer’s market is on Sunday!! I can’t wait! Thanks for posting.

Jill | A Cook's Nook04/05/2012 - 9:10 am

This looks gorgeous. We just bought a big bundle of asparagus, and I have a slight obsession with all things peanuts. I only wish we didn’t have to wait until mid June for the Farmers’ Markets to open here!

Carrie | acookgrowsinbrooklyn04/05/2012 - 11:31 am

I have never seen a more perfect looking picture of a salad. Something kind of cathartic about turning asparagus into ribbons, right?

This looks so yummy, I love asparagus :)

Laura {gourmettenyc}05/05/2012 - 1:14 pm

What a beautiful salad! I absolutely love shaved asparagus – it’s so fresh. I will definitely have to try this!

sarah @ two tarts06/05/2012 - 10:50 pm

I am pretty sure I would love that dressing on almost anything!

thelittleloaf07/05/2012 - 4:45 pm

I love asparagus season – they’re just coming into the shops in the UK and I can’t get enough of the stuff! Love the combination with crunchy peanuts here – just gorgeous.

sara forte08/05/2012 - 1:05 am

gorgeous! the words. photos…all of it. I need it and am SO sad that I had two bowls of granola for dinner. Nice work, lady.

[…] season, especially since it keeps popping up in some of our favorite places (Naturally Ella and The First Mess, for starters). The thought of eating raw asparagus seemed intriguing – though we were a bit wary […]

Rose10/05/2012 - 11:22 am

Hi there

This sounds delicious. But im allergic to peanuts, can you suggest a different nut that might go well in this recipe?

Rose

Laura10/05/2012 - 12:01 pm

Hi Rose!
Roasted cashews would be a perfect, equally delicious replacement. Or toasted sesame seeds would be nice too :)
-L

[…] quintessentially seasonal dish, the Asparagus Salad with Sesame Chili Lime Dressing from The First Mess is an elegant and unique take on the abundant asparagus you likely see piling […]

[…] Asparagus Salad + Sesame Dressing by The First Mess offers an exciting way to prepare asparagus, ribbons!  Simply use a peeler to make long thin ribbons, perfect for any spring salad. […]

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*

*