Asparagus season runs from late February through June. So why not be enjoying it right now? This salad is an easy recipe with great flavor and texture variety. The hazelnuts add for a unique crunch, you don’t need croutons for this salad! It also makes for a very healthy side dish. Serve it alongside some lean protein such as chicken or fish and you have yourself a delicious, light, Springtime meal!
Tips for Buying Asparagus:
- Fresh and ready to eat asparagus should be bright green.
- Discard any asparagus that appears shriveled.
- Asparagus tips can sometimes be purple, that’s ok.
- Lightly pinch the tips with your fingers, they should be firm, not soft and mushy.
Asparagus, Spring Onion and Hazelnut Salad
½ cup shelled hazelnuts
1 pound asparagus
¾ pound spring onions
4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 cups mixed greens
3 oz top-quality Parmigiano-Reggiano, broken up or very thinly sliced
2 tsp hazelnut oil
¼ cup chopped basil
Preheat the oven to 300ºF. Scatter the hazelnuts over a baking sheet and roast for 12 to 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Let them cool down before rubbing them between your hands to remove most of the skins (some should remain). Chop the hazelnuts roughly.
Place a ridged griddle pan on a high heat and leave it there until it’s almost red-hot – at least 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, trim the ends of the asparagus and cut the onions into about ¼ inch slices and place them in a bowl and toss with half the olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place the asparagus and onion slices in the hot grill pan and char-grill for about 2 minutes on each side; turn them over using tongs. You want to get distinct char marks without cooking the vegetables through. Transfer to a mixing bowl, pour over the balsamic vinegar, toss together and set aside.
Once the grilled vegetables have cooled down, add the remaining olive oil, the basil and hazelnuts. Mix lightly, then taste and adjust the seasoning accordingly. Transfer the salad to a flat plate, incorporating the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and drizzle over the hazelnut oil.