Asparagus Salad With Creamy Herbed Dressing

Once the good weather hits (any day now, I hope!) we seem to increase our outdoor entertaining regime whether it’s just for drinks on the patio or weekend guests at the cottage. We are always looking for a new appetizer or salad “of the season” that becomes our go-to dish to tote along wherever the invitation hits.

This Asparagus Salad with Creamy Herbed Dressing is such a hit Donna-Marie has taken it to many deck and barbecue parties all summer long using local asparagus from Barrie’s Asparagus Farm. What makes it such a great salad or side dish is that by blanching the asparagus you can get everything ready a day ahead and store separately in the refrigerator. Wrap the asparagus in a double layer of paper towel and then store in a re-sealable bag or container. Blanching means to plunge food into a pot or pan of boiling water for a very short amount of time, then plunge immediately into icy cold water to stop the cooking process. Blanching raw vegetables will brighten the colour while maintaining a crisp, barely-cooked texture and flavour. Just before serving this salad, assemble the asparagus on a platter and drizzle with the dressing and garnish with Parmesan shavings (made using a vegetable peeler).

If asparagus stalks are thick (and in my opinion better eating), then peel before using. Break the stalk at its natural break then peel up to the head with a vegetable peeler. I use green asparagus as it stands up best to the strongly flavoured. Any leftover dressing can be used with a green salad or mix it with a few tablespoons of deli-style cream cheese to make a dip or spread on a sandwich.