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Photo by Jim Norton

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Asparagus Salad with Roasted Garlic and Pecorino

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This simple salad marries fresh asparagus with the Mediterranean flavours of sweet roasted garlic and salty pecorino cheese. It’s delicious as part of an antipasto spread at lunch or as a composed salad, presented on individual plates, as a starter at dinner. For even cooking, choose asparagus of equal, medium thickness. You can chop the parsley leaves, but they look much nicer when you pick them off the stalk.


  • Serves: 4
  • Course: Snack

Ingredients

  • 24 asparagus spears
  • 12 cloves Pan-Roasted Garlic (and oil) (recipe follows)
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (30 ml)
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (15 ml)
  • 1/4 cup small leaves of flat-leaf parsley, picked from stems, divided (60 ml)
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 2 oz shaved pecorino cheese (60 g)

Preparation

  1. Asparagus Salad

    Preheat grill to medium-high. Trim woody ends of asparagus. Peel outer skin from bottom of stalks and trim to an even length. Toss asparagus with a little oil from the roasted garlic and set stalks on the grill for a couple of minutes until lightly charred.
  2. In a large bowl, toss asparagus with roasted garlic cloves, oil, vinegar, and half the parsley leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange asparagus mixture on a serving platter, or on individual plates, and top with shavings of pecorino cheese and remaining parsley leaves.
  4. Variation:
    On rainy days, when you’re not in the mood to grill, you can blanch the trimmed asparagus instead. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a boil. Add asparagus and cook until just yielding to the bite but still firm, 4–5 minutes. Drain immediately and refresh under cold water. Proceed as above.
  5. Pan-Roasted Garlic

    In a small frying pan, heat 1/4 cup (60 ml) extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add 12 medium-sized peeled garlic cloves and, if you have it, a sprig of thyme. Cook garlic until lightly browned and tender, 4–6 minutes. (Watch carefully and adjust heat as needed: Garlic can burn in an instant.) Remove garlic from oil with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towel to cool. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate the garlic-flavoured oil for future use.

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