Asparagus Salad With Blue Cheese and TWO(!) Dressings

We love asparagus; roasted, grilled, steamed, or, as here, blanched, then tossed into ice water to lock in that lovely green color, then dried and tossed in a salad – preferably with some blue cheese and thinly sliced red onion on top.

And… I wouldn’t say “no” to some pecans, a bit of chopped romaine, and, yeh… I think two tasty dressings to choose from.

A balsamic reduction vinaigrette, and a creamy, garlicky Medianoche.

Balsamic Vinaigrette:
•3 tbsp cherry balsamic vinegar – or, your preferred balsamic vinegar
•3 tbsp olive oil
•1 tbsp Dijon mustard
•1 clove garlic, minced
•1 tbsp water, optional

Medianoche Salad Dressing:
•1 cup mayonnaise
•1/4 cup Italian dressing
•1 tbsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce – or, your fave hot sauce, to taste
•2 tbsp sour cream

•Romaine, chopped
•1 tbsp Kosher salt
•Red onion, thinly sliced
•Chopped pecans
•Blue cheese, crumbled
•Dried cherries
•Freshly cracked black pepper

First, trim the asparagus. You could follow the tradition of holding each spear by the ends and snapping it; but I find you lose a lot o’ asparagus that way. I simply cut off the bottom inch or so of the spears and, if they are particularly thick, mebbe peel them.

Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then stir in one tablespoon of Kosher salt and add the asparagus.

Boil for three to four minutes, until the asparagus is a beautiful, bright green, then immediately (silicone tipped tongs work a treat, here) remove from the water and plunge into a large bowl filled with water.

Note: this step does two things:

It stops the asparagus from cooking any farther, and…

The “shock” will help to lock in that glorious green color.

Let the asparagus rest in the ice bath for ten minutes or so, then remove from the water and allow to drain on a towel lined platter.

Pat dry and stash in the fridge until needed.

A note on this salad: I was raised that one should never need to use a knife when eating a salad; but, the sight of so many crisp, green, whole asparagus spears hase made me give that a pass for once. I am pretty sure that my mom, could she see the platter that this makes, would be please.

Asparagus wrangled, let’s handle the two salad dressings; first the balsamic…

Place the balsamic vinegar in a small, heavy pan over medium heat and simmer for about three minutes, until it is thick and syrupy.

Turn the reduced vinegar into a mixing bowl or beaker, then add the olive oil, Dijon mustard, and garlic.

Whisk together, or, as I did, use your immersion blender to make the vinaigrette.

Give it a taste.

Really, quite nice. I didn’t think it needed any salt; but, it was a touch on the ‘thick’ side, so feel free to whisk in one tablespoon or so of water to thin the dressing out and see what you think, then.

Transfer to a covered jar and stash in the fridge until an hour or so before you plan on serving the salad.

Now, if you are of a more ‘creamy’ salad dressing mind for this, the Medianoche is just the ticket!

Whisk the mayonnaise together with the Italian dressing, the hot sauce, and sour cream, then stash in the fridge for a couple of hours to allow the flavors to really blend together.

This (with or without the sour cream) also makes a pretty nifty sammich spread; check out my Cubano, here.

Dressings made and chilled, asparagus blanched, dried, and chilled, and other veggies and stuff prepared, let’s make a salad!

I fully admit, this was totally for presentation. I arranged each ingredient in a stripe side by side on a platter, then crumbled the blue cheese and drizzled the balsamic vinaigrette over the top.

I passed the Medianoche Dressing for folk to add or skip, as they chose.

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