One of the surest signs of spring is the arrival of asparagus at the market. By now, I am happy to say goodbye for a while to my winter staples of roasted beets, rutebega gratins, and pureed root vegetable soups. I’m craving something green, snappy, and vibrant, and this asparagus with lime fits that bill perfectly.
With something this simple, good ingredients are imperative. Sweet, tender, finger-width asparagus are preferred here (think of the width of a small woman’s pinkie or ring finger- the larger asparagus tend to be a bit woody and not as flavorful), and you’ll want a flavorful, fruity/peppery olive oil. Lime juice, coarsely cracked peppercorn, and a good finishing salt, like Maldon, round out the salad and turn it into a standout accompaniment to lunch or dinner. I particularly like it alongside a Spanish tortilla, a fritatta, or other egg dishes. I hesitate to give a recipe, as the flavor of your olive oil and the sweetness of the asparagus will dictate exactly how much olive oil and lime juice you should use. Go by taste here, keeping in mind that the asparagus is meant to be lightly dressed and that the lime should add plenty of pizazz without overpowering the asparagus. Shaving the asparagus like this keeps it delicate and texturally interesting, allowing the lime juice to adhere better than it would to a skin-covered whole spear.
To make this salad, use a vegetable peeler to shave long, thin slices of asparagus and let them pile up into a bowl. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil onto the asparagus, just enough that when you toss it together, the asparagus is just barely moistened with oil. Squeeze a bit of lime juice onto the vegetables, then toss again. Sprinkle with freshly cracked black peppercorns (omit this if you are AIP) and a healthy dose of Maldon. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, then serve immediately .