Springtime Ribbon Salad
Spring is when tender delicious asparagus is in season. You can buy the homegrown variety at most markets, right now. At this time of year, you don’t have to cook the asparagus at all; it’s so-o tender and crunchy, if you get it locally. This salad is easy and quick to make, All of the colors are beautiful together and this salad looks impressive all curled into ribbons.
1 zucchini, ends cut off, sliced thinly
1 yellow squash, ends cut off, sliced thinly
1 bunch asparagus (not thin stalks), shaved thinly
1 carrot, peeled and ends cut off, sliced thinly
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
- Toast the pine nuts in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees, for 5 to 10 minutes. It’s really important, especially with pine nuts, that you stay near the oven and toss them a lot or they will burn.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons fresh.lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or grind to your taste)
2+ ounces freshly grated Parmesan
Wash your veggies well and make sure that your vegetables are nice and dry before trying to slice or shave them. Otherwise, you could accidentally slip and cut your hand with the mandoline or vegetable peeler! Feel free to hold them in one hand with a towel, while peeling with your other hand.
Using a mandoline, carefully slice, lengthwise, the zucchini, squash, and carrot into long thin strips (“ribbons”).
Don’t snap off the tough ends of your asparagus; you need to hold onto these tough ends, in order to peel the rest of the asparagus spear.
Lay a single asparagus stalk on its side, on a cutting board. Holding onto the tough end, use a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped peeler is easiest, but a standard one is okay), to shave off thin asparagus ribbons from stalk to tip. From bottom to top. Obviously, when done, throw away the tough ends. Also, don’t worry if the tender tip or part of it, remains with one of the slices; it’ll make your salad look that much more interesting and will taste good too.
Gently pile your ribbons on a serving platter or in a salad bowl. Add salt (optional) and grind the pepper to your taste. Squeeze the fresh lemon juice over the veggie ribbons, and drizzle them with the extra virgin olive oil. Toss gently
Now use your peeler to shave curls of Parmesan right off the block or grate the cheese (I like to grate it) and add to the ribbon salad. Sprinkle with the toasted nuts** Toss the salad and serve.
You can serve this beautiful Spring salad with any fish you desire, say, an easy to bake salmon fillet with baked sweet potatoes or jasmine rice or both, for a low calorie, very healthy repast. We drink mainly white wine, because recently red wine, which we love, caused palpitations, whereas white does not. Here are some wines that would go well with the baked salmon and the ribbon salad: Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Sémillon, Vin Gris. Whatever you decide, enjoy!
You may have noticed that ribbon salads are especially popular in restaurants during the Spring and Summer. I think I’ve had this type of salad at Union Square Café and Gramercy Tavern, here in Manhattan. Below are some variations on this wonderful salad. Because, the asparagus is unbelievably tender right now, you might want to consider asparagus ribbons only, for your salad.
Asparagus Ribbon Salad with Lemon and Parmesan
1/4 cup pine nuts or sliced almonds, toasted* (and more if you wish)
1 pound asparagus, rinsed (don’t use the tough ends)
1 lemon, halved (go by your own taste and squeeze accordingly)
pinch of Kosher salt (optional)
Pinch, Fine black pepper
1 to 2 ounces freshly grated Parmesan cheese (add more according to your taste)
Rinse the asparagus but don’t snap off the tough ends; because you need to hold onto the tough ends, in order to peel the rest of the asparagus spear.
Lay a single stalk on its side on a cutting board. Holding onto the tough end, use a vegetable peeler (a Y-shaped peeler is easiest, but a standard one is okay), to shave off thin asparagus ribbons from stalk to tip, from bottom to top. Shave thin ribbons from all the asparagus spears.
Pile the ribbons in a salad bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice over the asparagus and then drizzle it with the olive oil and sprinkle the black pepper (grind to your taste). Toss the ribbons gently. Use the veggie peeler to shave curls of Parmesan, or grate this cheese and sprinkle it over the asparagus (I prefer grating it). Finally, add your toasted nuts.
- Toast in a single layer on a baking sheet at 350 degrees, for 5 to 10 minutes. It’s really important, especially with pine nuts and/or sliced almonds, that you stay near the oven and toss them a lot or they’ll burn.
Variation using sesame seeds instead of pine nuts
Variation using hazelnuts and arugula with asparagus ribbons
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