Crisp Asparagus Salad with Sesame Oil

Nowadays, we seem to find meaning in quantifying everything about people: you are your Klout score, Twitter followers, Facebook Likes, Quora answer votes. I may be proud of my eBay feedback score and might have read my eBay positive feedback once or twice to bring me up when I’m feeling down. (I said might. Though I hear that no words give your self-esteem a lift more than “A++++++ eBayer! Hope to do business again soon!”)

Yet another reason that I like food: it’s a bit escapist from all the measuring. People try to quantify the food experience — like through star ratings on Yelp — but in the end, it’s hard to have an objective measure. And perhaps we shouldn’t; maybe we should just enjoy the food experience for its own sake, if only to have a break from the endless barrage of scores and data (which I like, at work. Just not so much in my free time.).

By the way, this post features some of the worst photos that I’ve ever taken. I’d like to say that I was channeling a Siberian gulag experience when I took these, but the truth is that I was hungry and styling was lower on the priority list than eating. On the bright side, think about how good this would look to you if you were in a gulag! So just trust me that this looks much more appetizing in real life than what I’m showing you here.

I got this recipe off of Facebook, through my friend Chris Wood, who may spend as much time with bacon as I do. I haven’t seen Chris in over 20 years, but Facebook has a way of introducing you to the intricacies of people’s diets even if you no longer really know what the people actually look like anymore.

Anyway, on to this nice, easy refreshing summer salad. You’ll be shocked to know that you begin with a bunch of asparagus.

(I know, I know, the composition, the cropping, the lighting! Aargh. Go look at the pictures in another post to recover your eyesight. I’ll wait.)

Prepare an ice bath in a bowl big enough to hold the asparagus.

Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until it turns bright green, and is tender but still crisp. (Ok, this next picture is really bad — you can even see the reflection of my overhead lighting in the water! I’m going to say that my 7-year-old took it.) The time will depend on the thickness of your stalks, but for this batch of medium-sized stalks, it took about 2 minutes. Next time I’ll cut the stalks so that they’re prettier, at a nice clean 45 degree angle.

Drain the asparagus and put them into the ice bath to stop the cooking.

Prepare the dressing by combining 1/2 clove minced garlic, 2 TBSP sesame oil, 1 TBSP lemon juice, 2 tsp dijon mustard (someday I will blog on this all on its own but there is only one mustard I ever use, which I used to ask my in-laws to smuggle from France, Amora Dijon Mustard. It is far superior to anything I’ve found in the US (more flavor, less sweet, bigger kick), and I recently discovered to my delight that someone is selling it on Amazon! It makes for phenomenal vinaigrettes.), 1/2 tsp pepper and salt to taste.

Remove the asparagus from the bath and toss with the dressing. I’d recommend adding in the dressing gradually to taste. Chill in the refrigerator.

If someone makes this and sends me better pictures I will post them!!!!

CRISP ASPARAGUS SALAD WITH SESAME OIL (Chris Wood)

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbs. sesame oil
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • salt to taste
  • sesame seeds (optional)

Preparation

Blanch the asparagus in boiling salted water until bright green. You want them to be tender but still crisp, about 2 minutes. Immediately drain and put in ice bath to stop cooking. Remove asparagus from ice bath when chilled.
Meanwhile, whisk together all other ingredients and taste to adjust seasoning. Toss vinaigrette with asparagus and refrigerate.
(Optional) Toss with sesame seeds before serving.

Serves 1-2.

4 Comments

  • Christopher Adam
    July 20, 2012 - 11:38 PM | Permalink

    no peeling?

    • July 21, 2012 - 9:11 AM | Permalink

      No, I didn’t peel this time — and I don’t if the asparagus is fresh enough (in this case, they came from our farm subscription, so the skins were still nice and tender). I realize you’re an expert peeler though and will engage your services next time I need asparagus peeled!

  • July 23, 2012 - 12:41 PM | Permalink

    I’m going to need to buy me some of that dijon!! Sounds amazing. You should give yourself more credit for your photos, too. love your writing… always makes me chuckle!.. Amen to your Facebook comment….. right??

    • July 23, 2012 - 1:35 PM | Permalink

      Oh yes, DO get that mustard — it is life-changing, truly. Just wait til you make your first vinaigrette with it — you will be happier, thinner and smarter. Or maybe just happier, but it’s really excellent — I need to do a whole post on that someday! Thanks for your kind words as always! :)

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