Asparagus and Arugula Salad

This asparagus and arugula salad is simplicity itself. Warm blanched asparagus topped with fresh arugula, shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, a garlic vinaigrette, and a squeeze of lemon juice.

An asparagus and arugula salad topped with Parmesan on a teardrop-shaped plate.

This asparagus and arugula salad is the sort of recipe you make with in-season asparagus rather than those tough and bland spears grown outside of nature’s preferences that you find in produce aisles the rest of the year. Simplicity itself.–Renee Schettler

Asparagus and Arugula Salad

  • Quick Glance
  • Quick Glance
  • 20 M
  • 25 M
  • Serves 2 to 4
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First, trim the asparagus, cutting 1 or 2 inches (2.5 or 5 cm) off the woody ends. If your asparagus spears have a fairly tough outer layer, use a swivel vegetable peeler to shave the bottom 3 to 4 inches (7.5 to 10 cm) of the stalks, taking off the harder outer skin. As you work, toss the peeled asparagus in a shallow dish filled with cold water and let it soak for 5 minutes. Drain the asparagus.

In a small glass bowl, combine the vinegar and a good pinch of salt. After a minute, add the garlic and vigorously whisk in the olive oil and a few drops of water. It should thicken and smooth a little.

In a pan large enough to hold the asparagus lying flat, heat 2 inches (5 cm) water over high heat. When the water comes to a boil, add a good pinch of salt, then add the asparagus and put a lid on the pan. Allow the water to return to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium-low to maintain a gentle boil. The asparagus should be done in 3 to 4 minutes, when they are slightly softened but still firm. If it’s the very skinny early asparagus, it will be done in 1 minute.

Tester tip: If you smell asparagus while it’s cooking, you’re at the edge of cooking it too long. So get them out of the water quickly and drain them well.

Place the asparagus on a warmed platter. Sprinkle them with some sea salt, some grated Parmesan, and a little lemon juice. Place the arugula on top, add the vinaigrette and the shaved Parmesan, and finish with a couple grindings of black pepper. Then prepare to lick the plate clean. Originally published March 17, 2018.

Print RecipeBuy the Five Ways to Cook Asparagus (and Other Recipes) cookbook

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Asparagus was always my father’s favorite vegetable, and its short season and high price made it even more precious. This recipe offers a fine way to enjoy the delicacy with minimal adornment—just enough to highlight its beauty. I first looked at this as a salad, but it is really more a way to showcase asparagus with a garnish of another vibrant spring plant, arugula.

In keeping with the theme of youthfulness and spring, the recipe seems also intended to use a young Parmesan, which I did not have. Both Parmesan and vinaigrette match well with asparagus, and this bright red wine vinaigrette (enhanced with the application of a little fresh lemon juice) proves a great choice of minimalist dressing.

This lovely combination of asparagus, arugula, and Parmesan added a fantastic "spring" element to our dinner. My normally anti-asparagus family gobbled up the whole plate of asparagus and were practically licking the remaining cheese and dressing in the bottom of the dish. Okay, that last part was me, but it really was that good.

This recipe will be at the top of my list each time asparagus season returns. A very elegant, delicious dish with minimal effort. I loved the technique of shaving the bottom of the stalks—this kept them very tender. While the stalks were hydrating, I made the dressing, and shaved the cheese.


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