(Originally published, Nov-2017, then updated by Tania, Nov-2018)
Here’s a lovely seasonal salad!
I assume that because you are reading this, you love asparagus and new potatoes as much as we do so I’ve put them together with some pastrami, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, some lovely fresh herbs and a garlicky, Dijon mustard dressing.
If you haven’t cooked with asparagus often here are a few tips:
- When shopping for it, look for asparagus that is a vibrant green with a small amount of white at the bottom of the spear. Look for stalks that stand up straight and are not floppy at all.
The tips should be tightly closed and compact and not starting to spread out or sprout. They should have purple highlights and make sure they’re not soft and mushy and/or a very dark green/black as the asparagus is likely past its use by date.
A dull green hue and wrinkles in the stems are an indication of old age. Make sure the stems look freshly cut and don’t look dry.
- It is best to choose stalks of uniform thickness so once cooked you don’t have some underdone or some overdone!
You can blanch it, steam it, grill it, chargrill it, roast it or stir-fry it (thicker asparagus does well with higher heat cooking like roasting and grilling).
Depending on the thickness of the stems you may like to enjoy it raw by shaving it with a peeler and adding it raw to salads! I particularly love it this way. To me, it tastes like raw peas which I loved to eat as a kid. My favourite chore as a kid was to help Nana pod the peas from their huge vegetable garden, but I think I ate more than what actually got frozen!
- Before placing asparagus in the refrigerator, trim a little off the ends and stand them upright in a jar or glass with enough water in it to just cover the bottoms. The rest of it needs to stay dry (don’t wash it before it goes in the fridge). Cover the tops with a plastic bag and it will keep super fresh for 3 – 4 days.
Alternatively, wrap the cut ends with a wet paper towel and store in a plastic bag.
Have a great week and let me know if you try it! 🙂
1.2 kilos new potatoes (skin on)
1 teaspoon salt
20 thin, 15 medium-thickness or 10 thick spears of fresh asparagus
50 g sliced pastrami
1 small or ½ medium-sized red onion
1 tablespoon capers
5 sun-dried tomatoes
fresh herbs; a mix of all, some or just one; dill, tarragon, Italian parsley, chives (2 tablespoons when roughly chopped)
1 medium or 2 small cloves garlic
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice (from ½ a medium-sized lemon)
½ cup / 125 ml light olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black, cracked pepper
Serves 6 – 8
- Omit the pastrami to instantly turn it into a vegetarian/vegan version!
STEP BY STEP
Wash the potatoes (scrub them if necessary). Also, use a small knife to remove any big ‘eyes’.
Chop them into roughly 4 cm x 4 cm / 1 ½ in x 1 ½ in pieces.
- I prefer the chunkier look but of course, it’s totally up to you how big or small you like your ‘pots’ in your salad! (Not everyone has a big mouth like me!)
Add them to a large saucepan along with the salt.
Cover them with cold water, pop a lid on (so they boil quicker) and place it over a high heat until it comes to the boil.
Once boiling turn the heat down to medium/low or to where it’s just simmering (softly boiling) and cook them until they are easily pierced with a knife (but not starting to fall apart). Mine took 20 minutes).
Drain them into a colander.
Next, (or while the potatoes are cooking) fill a large saucepan with water, enough so that it’ll cover the asparagus.
Place it on a high heat so it comes to the boil.
- If I’m blanching asparagus I often use a frying pan, just because of their length.
While it’s coming to the boil, prepare the asparagus by washing them in cold water and then snapping off the stalk ends.
- They should naturally snap off where the woody bit meets the more tender part. Mine snapped off around 4 cm / 1 ½ in from the ends.
When the water is rapidly boiling, add the asparagus and blanch them until they’re just tender and a knife will just pierce them. Mine took 5 minutes but if your asparagus is thicker it could take a minute longer or thinner a minute less.
- If you don’t cook them often and are not sure, it’s better to undercook rather than overcook them. Overcooked, limp, floppy, mushy asparagus that’s lost its vibrant colour doesn’t taste the best!
When it’s done, quickly drain the asparagus into a colander and then spread them out on a board to help them cool down quickly (to ensure they’re not still cooking).
So, while the vegetables are draining and cooling down a bit. Rip the pastrami into pieces or slice it up and place it into a large bowl.
Cut each stalk of asparagus into 3 pieces and place all but the tips (they’ll go on top later) into the bowl with the pastrami.
- If using quite thick stalks of asparagus it might pay to cut them into 5 segments. Medium-thickness stalks into 4.
Thinly slice the red onion…..
Drain and roughly cut up the capers…..
Thinly slice the sun-dried tomatoes……
Depending what herbs you are using, roughly chop up the dill, tarragon and/or Italian parsley. If you are using chives, slice them up.
Place all the prep and the potatoes into the large bowl with the pastrami and the asparagus.
Peel and either finely dice, grate or crush (whatever blows your hair back) the garlic and add it, the Dijon mustard, sugar, vinegar and lemon juice to a small bowl and whisk it all together.
Add the oil, in a slow ‘n’ steady, thin stream while whisking at full speed!
- If you add the oil too fast the dressing won’t emulsify (it will split). A nice, slow trickle is what is required. It won’t emulsify if you don’t whisk fast enough either, eek!
- Using the processor is the safest bet to make a nice stable dressing, but it’s more dishes to wash (I’ll take fewer dishes any day!) and well, the whisking can sometimes make your arm feel like it’s going to fall off, but I need the exercise so it’s all good!
It should be slightly thicker than full cream.
Lastly, add the salt and pepper and whisk them in.
That’s it, dressing done!
While the potatoes are still warm (so the dressing soaks into them) gently fold the dressing through the salad and transfer it to a serving plate or bowl.
Randomly place the asparagus tips over the top and garnish with a sprig of one of the herbs (or herb) that were added to the salad.
You can serve it while the potatoes are still warm. If serving it later, it’s nice left out of the fridge for half an hour until it comes back to room temperature.
Keepin’ it fresh – The salad is best eaten on the day (as the asparagus loses its colour), but kept wrapped in the fridge, it will keep up to 3 days.