Even though asparagus is available year-round, Springtime is the best time to enjoy them. Asparagus and fennel salad may seem like an unassuming dish but don’t be fooled by its looks. The pine nut dressing deliciously coats the veggies and it’s love at first bite! And, because this dish does not require a stove top or oven to make it, it’s perfect for a hot day.
Serves 4 as a starter
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 clove of garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan
asparagus bunch, ends trimmed
1 fennel bulb, cut in half
125g fresh mozzarella, torn into chunks
To make the dressing, in a mortar add a pinch of sea salt and garlic and use the pestle to muddle until a paste develops. Add pine nuts and bash to a thick paste. Add lemon juice, oil and parmesan. Muddle until well combined. Adjust according to taste by adding more oil, lemon juice or Parmesan.
For the salad, thinly slice asparagus using a vegetable peeler and for the fennel use a mandoline. Place in a bowl and add the dressing. Toss to combine making sure the vegetables are well coated. Arrange on serving plates or platter and add mozzarella chunks. Drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, garnish with fennel fronds and season with freshly ground black pepper.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: Try avoid ‘snapping off’ the ends of the asparagus as I find this sometimes wastes too much of the vegetable. Instead, cut the bottoms off about an inch – white ends definitely need a chop. Choose firm asparagus that are bright green (dark could mean older stalks), and the tips are tightly closed. Asparagus, also known as the stinky vegetable, has strong cleansing effects on the kidneys and bladder. It flushes out acid wastes so quickly you can smell the ammonia in your urine shortly after eating it.