Ribboned Asparagus Salad

Ribboned Asparagus Salad
From Smitten Kitchen

It’s my party, I can cook if I want to, cook if I want to….

Yes folks, today is my birthday, and I am one of those weirdos who chooses to cook for their own birthday party.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still using it as an excuse for a nice dinner with John later this weekend, but the big party was last night and it featured my favorite food of all – the homemade kind!

I get pretty jazzed about every HMK dinner party, but this one held a special place in my heart.  It was a…wait for it…make your own mac and cheese party!!!!!!  I came up with the idea after reading about a similar event on one of my fave food blogs, Everything Gal.  The night before the party we whipped up a triple(!) batch of our world famous (it’s my birthday, I can call it world famous) Baked Mac and Cheese.  Then, in a 2 hour saute marathon, John and I created a whirlwind of mix-in possibilities including chorizo, pepperoni, bacon, mushrooms, spinach, caramelized onions, broccoli, roasted red peppers, jalapenos, giardinera, sun dried tomatoes, hot sauces galore, truffle oil and garlic oil.  Phew!  About half way through the iron man of sauteing John reminded me that I am, in fact, crazy, and to keep in mind that this is NOT his idea of a great birthday.  But he loves me, so he stuck it out (plus I know he secretly gets his kicks seeing how many things he can saute in the fat run off from one pound of bacon).  Then last night our friends came over to mix up their very own mac and cheese concoction and we baked them in mini loaf pans.  Unfortunately my signature beverage (cold, cheap boxed white wine…classy lady) combined with my extreme excitement regarding the mac and cheese got the best of me and I did not take a single picture of the mix-ins or adorable finished mini-macs.  You’ll just have to imagine awesomeness.

Now, as you can see, mac and cheese is not the above recipe.  Since I had already posted our famous baked mac and cheese recipe, which includes instructions for adding mix-ins of your choosing, I knew I needed something else to post for my birthday blog.  Plus it seemed like serving people our oh-so-healthy 5-forms-of-dairy mac and cheese without some greens was wrong.  So I whipped up this salad to serve along side.  Everyone’s first reaction to this one is always “it’s JUST asparagus??? no lettuce??? the asparagus is raw???”  But no worries, one bite and everyone will be sold on this delicious and easy spring staple.  It’s no mac and cheese, but based on how quickly its platter was cleared, it can definitely hold its own!

Me and the girls, waiting for our mac to cook!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch (about 1 1/2 lb) of asparagus – pick the thickest stalks you can find, to make peeling them easier
  • 1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 3-4 oz fresh parmesan cheese – use a vegetable peeler to shave it into pretty pieces
  • 1 lemon
  • olive oil, to taste
  • coarse salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Preparation

  1. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the asparagus spears into ribbons.  Start by using the woody end that you would normally snap off as a handle.  Lay it down on the cutting board.  Take your peeler and, applying firm and steady pressure, drag it from the woody end through the tip of the spear.  It’s not a science.  Some times the tip will snap off.   If that happens just crumble the tip up a bit and add to the salad.  A “Y-peeler” tends to work best because it allows the most even pressure, but a regular one will totally work too.
  2. Toss asparagus ribbons with pine nuts and paremsan cheese.
  3. Squeeze lemon juice over the salad, to taste.
  4. Drizzle olive oil over the salad, to taste.
  5. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, to taste.

Serves 8-10.

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