Fresh local asparagus are a sure sign of Spring’s arrival. With bit of crunch, a bit of spice, and a bit of tang, if you’ve never tried raw asparagus, let this month’s recipe by MUIH Clinical Nutrition Intern Sherryl Van Lare be your introduction.
Easy to make and full of nutritious ingredients, this salad is a great source of folate and prebiotic fiber, which feeds our beneficial intestinal bacteria. Asparagus contain vitamins A, C, E, and K and serve as a great source of glutathione, detoxifying compounds, and antioxidants. The spice turmeric contains curcumin, which has anti-inflammatory benefits. Tahini, a paste made from ground sesame seeds, contains healthy omega-3 fats. One tablespoon has about 89 calories and contains thiamin and phosphorus (needed for strong teeth and bones), as well as manganese, calcium, iron, zinc, molybdenum, and selenium. Extra virgin olive oil contains monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which have beneficial impacts on cholesterol and anti-inflammatory polyphenols. Finally, the lemon juice provides more than 30% of the vitamin C we need per day, which is important for keeping our immune system healthy.
Shaved Asparagus Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing
15–20 spears of thick purple or green asparagus
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice (1-2 lemons)
2 tablespoons of organic, unsalted Tahini paste
1–2 tablespoons water
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne
1/8 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon organic extra virgin olive oil, preferably unfiltered
Optional: 1 teaspoon each of lemon zest, black sesame seeds, white sesame seeds
- Rinse the asparagus and break off the tough, woody portion of the stalk. One at a time, place a spear flat on a cutting board and use a vegetable parer to make thin slices or ribbons. Place in a bowl, setting aside the tips and leftover spears.
- In a jar, combine the salt, lemon juice, tahini, ground cayenne, ground turmeric, and one tablespoon water. Cover and shake vigorously. Thin with more water if too thick—it should have the consistency of a salad dressing.
- Spoon 2–3 tablespoons of the dressing over the asparagus ribbons and toss gently. If desired, sprinkle the salad with lemon zest and sesame seeds.
If preparing ahead of time, do not add the dressing until right before serving to avoid having the asparagus become soggy. You can save the asparagus tips and leftover portion of the spears for omelets or stir-fry dishes. Serves 3 to 4 people.
Slice the asparagus spears into 2-inch diagonal slices and steam briefly until just tender and bright green. Let cool slightly and toss with 2–3 tablespoons of the dressing.
The leftover dressing can be kept, refrigerated, for 3–4 days. It can be used as a salad dressing, drizzled over chopped kale, tossed with roasted vegetables like cauliflower or red potatoes, or blended with yogurt and chickpeas for a dip.