Paula Roy: Whole Foods in Half the Time


Delicous Dish: Asparagus & Balsamic Dressing

A bright, fresh taste of spring for any menu

by: Paula Roy

Flash cooked asparagus is tender and mild-flavoured, making it the perfect backdrop for a sweet or smoky Balsamic dressing. The shards of parmesan provide the ideal creamy, salty counterpoint. This dish would be welcome on any Passover or Easter brunch, lunch, or dinner menu. And the best part? The preparation takes less than ten minutes and can be done hours before you are ready to serve, with just a moment of assembly time at the last minute. The shards of cheese look really pretty on top; you can buy them premade or make your own using a vegetable peeler and a block of Parmesan.

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2 pounds (900 g) fresh asparagus
2 tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp (20 mL) Balsamic (use flavoured if you like – my choice is a smoky one)
2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp (30 mL) minced shallots
1 tsp (5 mL) sea salt
1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (125 mL) shards of Parmesan

Over high heat, bring a broad, large-sized pot of water to a boil.

Rinse asparagus under cold water and snap woody ends off.

Add the asparagus to the boiling water and cook for 2.5 minutes. Use a timer!

Drain immediately and plunge the asparagus into an ice water bath.

Let cool for 2 minutes; remove from ice water and lay out on a clean towel. Pat gently to dry thoroughly then place on a serving platter. Cover with a towel and let sit at room temperature up to six hours.

Combine olive oil, balsamic, garlic, shallots, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight fitting lid, shaking vigorously to blend thoroughly. Let sit at room temperature until ready to assemble salad.

When ready to serve, give the dressing a good shake then drizzle it over the asparagus; use kitchen tongs or two forks to gently toss them together.

Garnish with shards of parmesan and serve immediately.

Serves 10.