It’s Summer and that means Asparagus in all its glory! Who knew?
Some of my most favorite fruits and vegetables are in season right now – beans of all types, eggplant, tomatoes, carrots, stone fruit, berries, grapes, pears – the list is long. And right now, one of my favorites is everywhere – Asparagus!
There are many ways to serve asparagus that involve cooking or, at the minimum, blanching. They can be added to pastas, salads, grilled or roasted and used as a simple side dish for your favorite entrée, almost any way you can think. But, one of my favorite ways is to not cook them at all!
Raw asparagus can be very chewy and unappetizing. The stalks can be very fibrous and almost impossible to chew. But, ribbons that you make from raw asparagus are the best way to eat those raw spears because they are always tender. Asparagus ribbons bring beautiful color and character to anything they are added to with just the right amount of crunch. And the best part is they are so simple to make.
Buy medium to larger spears – save the pencil thin ones for other dishes where you want the asparagus to stay whole. Rinse the asparagus and pat dry. Then either snap or cut off the woody ends and simply peel the spears with a Y-peeler using a firm touch. Y-peelers are the best for this job because you can shave the entire spear without hitting your hand on the counter or your cutting board.
If the stalk rotates or is slipping and you can’t get it to stay steady on the cutting board simply shave one side into a flat surface, place that side down on your board and shave the rounded side into ribbons. If some of the tips fall off just add them to your ribbon pile.
The ribbons can become the salad alone tossed with a great vinaigrette and topped with some shaved parmesan. Or, add pine nuts or chopped walnuts to the salad for more texture. Top a bowl of your favorite grains with the ribbons and then perhaps add a perfectly poached egg for an entire meal.
But, my favorite way to use raw asparagus ribbons is to add them to toast. Here I’ve simply smashed ripe avocado onto multi-grain toast, topped it with some fresh ricotta, added a sprinkle of kosher salt, a few cracks of freshly ground pepper, the raw asparagus ribbons and then some chili flakes for a bit of heat. Delicious!