Roasted Asparagus Salad with Arugula and Hazelnut

You can learn a lot sitting on the tailgate of a pickup truck. A farmer friend of mine used to sit me down and teach me about all things asparagus. Chris worked hard—awfully hard—as a farmer. He was true salt of the earth, and as generous as they come. Normally, there's an invisible line: farmers behind their wares and buyers on the other side, but Chris always insisted I "step into his parlor." Both of us were always so excited when the first asparagus of the season showed up. He'd put aside a bunch for me, and then we'd both hop up on that tailgate and talk—about recipes, how amazingly nutritious asparagus is, and, a lot of the time, about life and family. Chris passed away not long ago, and I felt the best way I could honor him was to create a recipe featuring his favorite veggie. I think he would have enjoyed this, and I hope you will too. 

By | May 01, 2017

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 bunches asparagus (about 2 pounds), tough ends snapped off and discarded, then peeled (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups loosely packed arugula

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 400°. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Put them in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes as it preheats, until aromatic and browned. Transfer to a plate or, if you'd like to remove the skins for a more refined texture and appearance, wrap them in a towel and give them a good rub. The majority of the skins will come right off. Coarsely chop the hazelnuts.

Put the asparagus on the same baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with the 2 teaspoons of olive oil and generously sprinkle with salt. Toss gently to evenly coat the asparagus. Bake for 8 minutes, until just barely tender.

Put the lemon juice, the 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and a few grinds of pepper in a small bowl and mix well with a small whisk. 

Put the arugula in a large bowl. Drizzle with half of the dressing and toss until evenly coated. Mound the arugula on individual plates or a platter and arrange the asparagus on top. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and sprinkle the hazelnuts on top. 

Variation: Substitute toasted pistachios or walnuts for the hazelnuts.

Cook's Note: Peeling the asparagus gets rid of the stringy, sometimes tough outer layer and exposes the sweet flesh underneath. To peel it, use a regular vegetable peeler with a light touch to shave off just the skin. This technique is not necessary with thin asparagus spears. 

Makes 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts
  • 2 bunches asparagus (about 2 pounds), tough ends snapped off and discarded, then peeled (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cups loosely packed arugula

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