It was going to be a lunch for one. Because I decided to pop in to the office for an hour or two to finish some work (I don’t normally work Thursdays), my husband spent the bulk of the day with one of his buddies. By the time my weekend officially started at 1 pm, I was famished. I had some shopping to do for dinner and as I threw each item from my list into my shopping basket, an idea for lunch formed.
Despite the mildly overcast conditions I wanted to eat fresh and light rather than heavy and hearty. I saw beautiful bunches of asparagus (my favorite vegetable) and some fennel bulbs (a relatively-new love) and while I normally like both roasted, I had in mind something different to do with them today. Before long, I had all I needed for dinner and for my late lunch.
What made me think I didn’t like fennel in my 20s I’ll never know. I stayed away from them for so long and now, it seems, I’m making up for lost time. On the nights that I serve roast vegetables fennel is now always on the list. I’ve only branched out to eating them raw recently and really like them this way. In my salad for one I didn’t bother to blanch the asparagus either. The young, tender spears were wonderful as-is.
I let the raw asparagus and sliced fennel soak in a simple dressing of fresh lemon juice and very fruity olive oil. Waiting at least 30 minutes before serving the salad marinates the vegetables and tenderizes them a little. Rounding out the cast, simple butter beans (that I normally marinate in oil and vinegar and serve as appetizers) offered a nice textural contrast to the crisp vegetables. For the peppery component, I threw in some radish sprouts and watercress. Topped with Parmesan shavings, this is one of the best salads I’ve prepared in a while.
I loved it.
And my husband did, too. I saved a few bites for him to taste when he got home and he promptly requested that I make it for him tomorrow. No problem. It will be our lunch. I have a feeling I’ll be making this salad all spring long.
Peppery Spring Salad
- 4-6 asparagus spears uncooked, tough ends removed
- 1/2 fennel bulb uncooked, core removed and sliced thinly
- 1 handful sprouted radish seeds
- 1 small handful watercress
- A few butter beans or canned cannellini beans
- 2-3 tablespoons fruity olive oil plus more for drizzling
- Juice of half a lemon about 2 tablespoons
- Parmigiano-Reggiano shaved
- Kosher salt pinch
Combine the asparagus, fennel slices, olive oil, lemon juice and salt in a shallow bowl and let marinate for around 30 minutes. This is not absolutely necessary but makes the salad better in my opinion.
After the wait time, add the butter beans to the bowl and toss. Transfer to a plate and top with the sprouted radish seeds, watercress (if using) and shaved Parmesan. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Adjust the proportions according to your taste. There is no fixed formula here--very easy to adjust for more servings.