Asparagus is drawing near the end of it's season (end of April to the end of June) so I'm trying to squeeze in my favourite asparagus salad before it's too late! Fresh, green, tender asparagus mixed with Parmesan for a touch of saltiness and depth, toasted hazelnuts and breadcrumbs for texture and a creamy, soft lemon & yogurt dressing. Delicious.
It's a super easy recipe - the only cooking involved is toasting the hazelnuts and breadcrumbs. The lemon juice "cooks" the finely sliced asparagus stems so no chance of you over-cooking the asparagus, like I have done many, many times.
The dressing is a simple yogurt/lemon juice/seasoning mix, but you can add other flavours in there too if you fancy it - sumac, garlic, chilli - but I like to keep it straightforward and clean with the asparagus flavour shining through.
I also like to enhance the lemon side of the flavours by using a lemon infused rapeseed oil, from the very local producer Broighter Gold, to toast the breadcrumbs. It's subtle but I miss it when I don't use it.
Last of all... I'm sure you are aware of the after-effects of asparagus but if you're not then check out this link <BBC Future - why does asparagus make our pee smell>. It was a great way to get my kids to try asparagus for the first time :)
25g Hazelnuts, slightly smashed
1 tablespoon of Olive or Rapeseed Oil, flavoured or plain (I used locally produced Broighter Gold Lemon Infused Rapeseed Oil)
400g bunch of Asparagus
1 unwaxed Lemon
1 tablespoon 0% Fat Greek Yogurt
Maldon Sea Salt & Freshly Ground Pepper
20g Parmesan, grated
Toast the Hazelnuts & Breadcrumbs:
Toast the slight smashed hazelnuts in a dry non-stick frying pan, then put to the side to cool. You can roast them whole or halved if you prefer.
Add a spoonful of oil to the pan. (I used a lemon infused oil to give an extra layer of freshness to the salad.) Heat the oil, add the breadcrumbs and fry/toast until golden.
Remove from the pan and put to the side to cool.
Prepare the Asparagus:
Break the asparagus heads off and put in a bowl. Then break off or trim the woody ends on the remainder of the asparagus. Slice the asparagus lengthways in half, and in half lengthways again. Add to the heads in the bowl.
Zest the whole lemon and then juice half the lemon. Add the zest and juice to the asparagus.
Stir gently together along with a pinch of salt and pepper.
Make the Dressing:
Juice the other half of the lemon and add it to the greek yogurt.
Whisk together, taste and season well.
Arrange the asparagus onto a serving plate or bowl.
Sprinkle the hazelnuts over the asparagus, then add the grated parmesan.
Drop spoonfuls of the dressing over the salad and top with a dusting of breadcrumbs for extra crunch and texture.
Broighter Gold Rapeseed Oil