Salads

Asparagus and Arugula Salad with Cannellini Beans

Serves 4 to 6 (FAST) (VEG)

WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Asparagus has been a favorite vegetable in the Mediterranean since the Greeks and Romans. To incorporate it into a bright, fresh salad, choosing the right cooking method was key. Steaming produced bland, mushy spears, but sautéing the asparagus over high heat delivered deep flavor and tender texture. We sliced the spears on a bias to expose as much of the inner fibers to the cooking surface as possible. With olive oil in a hot pan, we browned some red onion before adding the asparagus pieces. Just 4 minutes of cooking was enough to produce uniformly tender pieces. Creamy cannellini beans provided a subtly nutty and smooth contrast to the asparagus. While the asparagus mixture cooled, we made a simple vinaigrette of balsamic, olive oil, salt, and pepper. For the greens, we knew peppery arugula would hold up well against the other bold flavors, so we dressed and plated it before tossing the asparagus in the dressing as well. Look for asparagus spears no thicker than ½ inch.

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ red onion, sliced thin
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 1-inch lengths
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 ounces (6 cups) baby arugula
  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add onion and cook until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Add asparagus, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is browned and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes. Transfer to bowl, stir in beans, and let cool slightly.
  2. Whisk vinegar, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Gently toss arugula with 2 tablespoons dressing until coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide arugula among plates. Toss asparagus mixture with remaining dressing, arrange over arugula, and serve.

VARIATION

Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese

Look for asparagus spears no thicker than ½ inch.

  • 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, and cut into 2-inch-long matchsticks
  • 1 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut on bias into 1-inch lengths
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 shallot, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 6 ounces (6 cups) baby spinach
  • 2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (½ cup)
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add bell pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add asparagus, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until asparagus is browned and almost tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in shallot and cook until softened and asparagus is crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Transfer to bowl and let cool slightly.
  2. Whisk vinegar, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper together in small bowl. Whisking constantly, slowly drizzle in remaining ¼ cup oil. Gently toss spinach with 2 tablespoons dressing until coated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide spinach among plates. Toss asparagus mixture with remaining dressing and arrange over spinach. Sprinkle with goat cheese and serve.
NOTES

How to Dress a Salad

Getting a properly dressed salad requires a few simple steps. You never want to dump a set amount of dressing over greens and assume they will be perfectly coated. Once you have overdressed your salad, there is no going back, so it’s best to lightly drizzle and toss the salad with tongs a couple of times, tasting as you go. Generally, ¼ cup of vinaigrette dresses 8 to 10 cups of lightly packed greens, enough for four to six side salads or two to three dinner salads. For the freshest salad, make sure to dress your greens just before serving. Also, for just a hint of garlic flavor, rub the inside of the salad bowl with half a clove of peeled garlic before adding the lettuce.

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