This salad epitomizes spring when young peas and asparagus are at their peak. Arugula, with it’s peppery, slightly bitter taste, provides a nice complexity to the salad. When you add a piece of grilled salmon or chicken breast, you have a beautiful and delicious lunch or dinner salad.
When you work with asparagus, it is not necessary to snap the asparagus to determine the fresh part of the spear. Simply trim off just about 1” of the bottom of the spear, and then use a vegetable peeler to peel the lower half of the spear. This way, the asparagus is tender all the way down the spear and you end up wasting much less of the asparagus than if you snap it. This recipe calls for blanching the asparagus, but you could also grill it, which gives it a sweet flavor.
If you have a special bottle of balsamic vinegar, using a little drizzle on this salad is the perfect application.
1. Prepare a gas or charcoal grill. Lightly coat the salmon or chicken with olive oil, salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice. Grill the salmon or chicken, about 4-6 minutes per side. Let cool.
2. Peel the lower half of the asparagus. Cut asparagus stalks on a long diagonal into 1/8-inch-thick slices, leaving 1-inch-long tips. If you are going to grill the salmon, grill it whole and slice it after grilling.
3. Blanch asparagus in a medium pot of boiling salted water 2 minutes, then immediately transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl of ice and cold water to stop cooking.
4. Return water to a boil and peas 1 minute, then immediately transfer with slotted spoon to ice water to stop cooking. Drain asparagus and peas.
5. Toss arugula with one tablespoon olive oil and salt and pepper to taste then divide among 2 plates. Toss peas and asparagus in a bowl with 1 tablespoon oil and salt and pepper to taste, mound on top of arugula.
6. Arrange the salmon or chicken on top of the salad. Shave thin slices of cheese over the salad with a vegetable peeler, then drizzle with your best quality balsamic vinegar.
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