Spring Asparagus Salad

Spring has officially sprung, and with it a bevy of excellent seasonal ingredients. I’m going wild with ramps, leeks, radishes, fiddlehead ferns, and all of the fresh herbs that my little heart desires. But asparagus are one veg I can never get enough of, and there is no better time to cook with them than now, while they’re at their most fresh.

I saw the recipe below on the Smitten Kitchen blog and loved the combo of the lemon and mint with the humble asparagus. But I ended up doctoring the recipe significantly, and creating a vegan mint and walnut pesto instead of the ingredient composition that the original recipe calls for. I’ve reproduced the recipe below as it appeared on the blog, but have added in red what my changes were. Try it the original way, try it my way, go crazy and try both! Any way you slice it, this is an excellent recipe for spring.
Asparagus and Egg Salad with Walnuts and Mint

Serves: 4

  • 4 large eggs, cold from fridge
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped lightly well-toasted walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Dried chile flakes
  • 1 pound asparagus, any thickness, tough ends trimmed
  • About 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

Bring a small/medium pot of water to boil. Gently lower in eggs and reduce heat to a simmer. Boil for 8 1/2 minutes, then quickly transfer eggs to an ice-cold water bath. Leave them there while you prepare the other ingredients, but ideally at least 10 minutes.

I soft-boiled my eggs: Put 4 eggs in a pot of water (make sure that they are covered). Bring the pot of water to a boil, then immediately turn off the heat. Leave them in the pot for another 2-3 minutes, then remove and peel.

Bring the same water to a boil again, slice the asparagus, blanch for 2 minutes, then remove.

Place parmesan, walnuts, and lemon zest in the bottom of a large bowl, along with 1 teaspoon salt, many grind of black pepper, and about 1/2 teaspoon chile flakes. Stir to combine.

Place the lemon zest, lemon juice, mint, walnuts, red chili flakes, salt, and pepper in a food processor (I used my Magic Bullet). Add in a few glugs of olive oil so the mixture feels moist and will blend well, add more as necessary. I used a good dash of nutritional yeast as well, to make the pesto vegan. Blend.

Cut the asparagus on a sharp angle into very thin slices and add to the parmesan mixture. Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and toss some more. Taste and adjust the flavors to your preference by adding more salt, black pepper, chile flakes, or lemon juice, and go a little bit heavy, so the flavors don’t disappear once you add the eggs. Add mint and olive oil toss, adjusting seasoning again.

Peel your cooled eggs. Cut in half, then each half into 6 to 8 chunks. Add to bowl with asparagus and give it one or two gentle stirs (I don’t want to get them too mashed up here).

Toss the asparagus with the desired amount of pesto (I had extra pesto). Spoon the mixture over a bed of arugula, and top with pieces of soft-boiled egg. Top with additional chili flakes and sea salt.

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