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Shaved Asparagus Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette


There are those days when you just feel lucky. The world might not be perfect and your life might not be perfect, but when you put things into perspective, you can’t help but think that life is grand. All too often, I find myself getting overwhelmed by the little things. Small frustrations and anxieties that seem entirely ridiculous in the grand scheme of things. It’s easy to live life on the day to day. The hour to hour. Task to task. But when you step back and live life by individual moments, tying the great ones together feels natural and omitting the everyday stresses is certainly doable.

I’ve had a number of great moments these last few months. I promised myself that this would be my summer of doing. I would plan activities and trips (both long and short) to make sure that every weekend was worth looking forward to and I would take advantage of having friends in town to plan after work activities too. So far, it’s worked well. This summer has been rich already–lots of time with my family, quality time with friends both old and new, some great trips passed and more to come. All in all, it’s been a good summer summer so far and it’s about to get even better.

In some ways, summer’s harder on the food blog. To be perfectly honest, I don’t cook as much as I do during the other seasons–unless cooking involves churning ice cream, grilling shrimp or tossing together the bounty of summer fruits in bowl. I don’t have a great excuse–San Francisco weather, while offering up the occasional nice day, is largely un-summer-like. But what can I say–I like to have a summer mindset.

Arguably, summer is the best time to cook. I overload my shopping bags at the farmer’s market, breaking my fingers carrying them home. Everything is ripe and in bloom. Everything is juicy and fragrant and overwhelms the senses. But largely because everything is ripe and in bloom, it taste most delicious fresh. There’s just not a lot of fuss about summer cooking, which is one of the things I love about the Canal House Cooking series, a delicious collection of cookbooks that’s all about straight-up delicious. There are some curious recipes that border on questionable for me (chicken in gelee might not be entirely up my alley) but other dishes just hit a home run. This raw shaved asparagus salad is one of them. Transforming one of my favorite vegetables into a light, yet sustenance-ful salad that can easily be served as a side or a light lunch.

If you’ve been reading along for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve taken a liking to anchovies. It’s rather strange, to be honest. But I’ve found that anchovies add a great complexity to sauces that elevate light, fresh flavors of vegetables and seafood in ways I hadn’t imagined before. Take this asparagus salad, for example–keeping things raw actually allows the asparagus flavor to be much more discreet. The vinaigrette adds just the right of saltiness and citrus flavor. The two pair together beautifully and can make even haters of asparagus (my husband included) take note.

Matt and I will be traveling to Portland for the 4th of July this year–a real old school style road trip during which our mission will be to eat and explore. Neither of us have ever been before, so if you have suggestions, please leave them in the comments!

Shaved Asparagus Salad with Anchovy Vinaigrette
*adapted from Canal House Cooking, Volume 1
serves 2-4 (as a light starter)

5 anchovy fillets in oil, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove
half a lemon, juiced
1/4 cup of olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus
salt and pepper, to taste

1. Combine the anchovies, garlic, salt and pepper in a mini-blender and blend until the mixture resembles a paste. Add in the olive oil and lemon juice and blend well. Season with more salt and pepper, to taste.
2. Break off the thick, fibrous parts of the asparagus. Snap the stalks at their natural breaking point. Thinly slice the asparagus lengthwise using a madoline or a very sharp paring knife.
3. Toss the asparagus with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Transfer to serving plate and serve with freshly crusty bread.

Musical Pairings: Perfume Genius – Learning + Shaved Asparagus Salad


Shaved asparagus salad with anchovy vinaigrette will probably sound delicious to some readers, and probably unappealing to others. Nonetheless, as one who describes himself as anti-asparagus, I promise you: this is a recipe worth trying. Despite the small number of ingredients involved, there is a lot of flavor in this recipe – flavors that blend together to create something new and exciting. Similarly, some readers will see the words “home recordings” and may foolishly tune-out the haunting, achingly-beautiful ballads of Mike Hadreas’ (aka Perfume Genius) first album: Learning. It is a quiet, simply constructed album of home recordings, but despite the unadorned arrangements, Learning sounds completely fleshed-out and engaging. Read more at Musical Pairings. –Matthew

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Posted by Kasey

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Kasey is the food editor and co-founder of Turntable Kitchen. She loves dark chocolate, warm crusty bread, and traveling to new places. She speaks Russian, but does not like vodka.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01907758539058786065 Peter M

    I've always been intrigued by these thinly shaved asparagus salad, love them. A little crunch, a little tender.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Peter- I have been, too, and this is the first time I've eaten asparagus raw. I'm really excited by this dish!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/13703569559405885180 Lauren

    YUM! Kasey, this looks delicious. I have taken a serious liking to anchovies as well, but they have to be prepared correctly and paired with foods that make sense. This looks awesome! I'll have to try it out :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14334441121491984365 redmenace

    Summer is all about no fuss cooking. I totally agree. Loving the salad sooo much!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Lauren: totally agree. The marriage has to be right.Robin: have you tried it? I am totally in love. Have you gotten the Canal House books??

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/14836957075005953796 Lacy

    My boyfriend and I are also doing an old fashioned road trip this summer, and will also be in Portland for the 4th of July! Small world. This will be my first real trip to Portland, but we have a long list of recommendations from friends who live there. Apparently Pine State Biscuits (located on S. Belmont St., and at the Saturday Farmer's Market) is the place to go. Also, Bunk Sandwiches is supposed to be incredible.Have fun!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15270440612156971084 nicole

    This salad looks great and I've been curious about shaved asparagus. It's been unusually warm in Michigan, so turning on the oven is the very last thing I've wanted to do. Must give this a try!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Lacy: How fun! Have a great trip :) I have also gotten lots of great recommendations from friends and acquaintances. I've heard great things about Pine State Biscuits. I'm DEFINITELY going there.Nicole: I'm jealous! San Francisco rarely gets 'usually warm.' I could use those hot days more!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05817049547134774699 Pille

    I tend to buy "thin" asparagus that be very hard to shave, but I'll bookmark the recipe for anchovy vinaigrette!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05641448576726538534 Kasey

    Pille: I generally tend to buy thing asparagus too, but for this salad, you should really try the thicker kind. You could however, shred the thinner asparagus and toss with the vinaigrette. Still impossibly delicious!

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