Wow your guests at your next dinner party with this easy to make Baby Asparagus Salad.
So easy to prepare but oh so heavenly.
The delicate grassy flavour of the fresh baby asparagus is just magic with the creamy lemony ricotta in this salad, a wonderfully elegant salad that is easy to prepare.
This antioxidant-rich salad is also very low carb, gluten-free and keto-friendly.
When is Asparagus season?
While asparagus may be in season throughout the year, during Spring it is at its peak and this is when you will find it at its absolute best not only appearance wise but also nutritiously.
You will always find an abundance of gorgeously bright green Asparagus during the Spring and during this time is when you are most likely to run across baby or mini asparagus.
‘Mini’ asparagus is just the small asparagus from the asparagus plant. These cute little stems are just 10 cm (4 inches) long and light green in colour. They have a subtle taste and a much more delicate flavour than the larger asparagus does.
How to make your Baby Asparagus Salad
For the asparagus…
Before preparing your asparagus put a large pot of water to boil.
There is very little to do in the preparation of the baby asparagus all you need to do is rinse it under cold running water and then cut off about 1cm (1/4 of an inch) from the bottom of the stalks.
If you are using common asparagus, rinse under cold running water and cut off 2.5cm (1 inch) from the bottom.
How much should I cut off my asparagus?
The best way to test how much you should cut from your asparagus is to hold the asparagus about halfway down the spear and bend the stalk until it snaps.
Then use it as a guide to cut the rest of your asparagus stalks by lining them up together and cutting off with a sharp chef’s knife.
Blanching your baby asparagus
Once your asparagus has been prepared, add some salt to your boiling water (this helps the asparagus to retain its bright green colour), then add your asparagus.
Blanch until tender approximately 2-3 minutes for the baby asparagus and slightly longer for the long asparagus 4-5 minutes. It will turn bright green and you will notice a grassy asparagus aroma. You want your asparagus to be cooked until it is al dente, just like your pasta.
While you are waiting for your asparagus to cook, wash your lemon, wipe dry and then zest. But do this next to your boiling asparagus so that you can keep an eye on it – there is nothing worse than soggy asparagus.
Strain in a colander in the sink and immediately run cold water on top to stop the cooking process.
Drain well and leave in your colander, you want to strain out as much of the water as you can, otherwise, it will water down your dressing.
For the lemon ricotta
In a small mixing bowl add your ricotta, a pinch of sea salt and half of the lemon zest and gently mix until the ricotta and zest are well combined.
If you find that your ricotta is a bit thick you can add 1-2 tablespoons of milk or water to thin it out a bit.
If you would like a smoother consistency for your lemon ricotta, just place your ricotta, half the lemon zest, a pinch of fine sea salt and 1-2 tablespoons of milk or water in a small food processor and blitz until creamy.
Putting it all together
Place your cooled and drained asparagus in a large mixing bowl add your olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and toss until well combined your asparagus should be well coated with the olive oil and lemon juice.
Arrange your asparagus on one side of a salad platter then smear the ricotta on the other side.
Sprinkle the additional lemon zest on top and serve.
A great make-ahead salad…
This salad is perfect for entertaining as you can prepare most of its components the day before and just simply assemble it on the day.
You can blanch and cool your asparagus, prepare the lemon ricotta, place all the vinaigrette ingredients in a glass jar and store them covered in your fridge.
On the day dress your asparagus and arrange on a salad platter with the lemon ricotta on the side.
In the unlikely event that you have leftovers, they will keep covered for 3-4 days in your fridge. But, would be great in your lunchbox the next day or stir it through some pasta or use it in a frittata for an easy dinner.
What to serve with this salad…
As this salad has subtle flavours I would pair this salad with white meats such as chicken, pork or seafood, especially good with salmon. We served ours with a whole baked salmon.
BABY ASPARAGUS WITH LEMON RICOTTA
- 550 grams baby asparagus or standard (5 mini or 2 medium bunches)
- 250 grams fresh ricotta (1 cup)
- 2 tbsps lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tbsps lemon juice
- Bring a large pot of water to the boil.
- In the meantime, rinse your baby asparagus under cold running water and cut off the woody part of the stems.
- Blanch until tender approximately 2-3 minutes for the baby asparagus and slightly longer for the long asparagus 4-5 minutes.
- Remove immediately when done and refresh in cold water so that it remains a bright green colour, then leave in your colander to drain well.
- Add the ricotta, half of the lemon zest and a pinch of sea salt to a mixing bowl and mix until well combined.
- Alternatively, blitz in a small food processor with 1-2 tablespoons of milk or water until smooth.
- Place your asparagus in a large mixing bowl add your olive oil and lemon juice, season with salt and pepper and toss until well combined. Taste and adjust seasonings according to your taste.
- Arrange your asparagus on one side of a salad platter then smear the ricotta on the other side. Sprinkle the additional lemon zest on top and serve.