Asparagus and Fresh Spring Pea Salad with Tomato Vinaigrette
There’s a short time during the early summer when the last of the asparagus and peas are arriving at the market and the first of the season’s cherry tomatoes are ripening. That’s the perfect time to make this salad. I know its October and these vegetables aren’t going to be field fresh for another nine months (at least here in Ontario). But as we get ready to enter the long dark winter, we thought we’d share this little reminder that the sun always comes out again.
The asparagus and peas are cooked until just tender, and then quickly chilled in ice water. This not only arrests the cooking process, but helps to preserve the bright green colour.
- 8oz/225g asparagus, woody bottom ends trimmed off. If they are thicker than ½ inch, they would benefit from having the bottom ⅔s peeled.
- ½ cup shelled peas, from about 8oz/225g whole pods.
- About ½ head Boston or Bibb lettuce (while very similar, they are in fact two different varieties of lettuce. Use whichever is available). Leaves separated, washed and dried
- 4 small handfuls baby arugula (half a small pack)
- 1 medium shallot, finely chopped (around 2oz)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 6oz/170g cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters vertically, then sliced horizontally (making 8 pieces per tomato)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh basil, about 1 sprig (mint or tarragon could be substituted)
- Kosher Salt
- Pepper to taste
- Blanch the asparagus and peas. 3 minutes for slender asparagus, 5-7 for medium spears, and longer for very thick spears. Once cooked, transfer to a bowl of ice water (or lots of very cold water if you don’t have any ice). This stops the cooking process. As soon as it has cooled, removed them from the ice water to drain on paper towel.
- Repeat with the peas, cooking for 2-3 minutes . Chill and drain just as you did for the asparagus.
- To prepare the vinaigrette, combine the shallot, vinegar and a little salt in a medium bowl.
- Stir in the olive oil, and then fold in the tomatoes and basil.
- Check the seasoning and add salt, pepper and additional vinegar to taste.
- On a plate, make a mound of Boston lettuce and arugula. Lay the asparagus over top of the greens and sprinkle the peas over the asparagus. Top with the tomato vinaigrette.