I bought some locally grown asparagus at the fruit market a few kilometers from the cottage, and decided to feature it in a salad. I trimmed the tough ends off the lovely green spears, then gave them a nice coating of olive oil, a spritz of freshly squeezed lemon juice and a crackling of freshly ground pepper. The Culinary Enthusiast braved the blazing sun out front where the barbeque is, and grilled them to perfection, i.e., just starting to brown a bit, but not burnt!
There’s really no set recipe for a salad like this; just go with what you have and what you like! That said, here’s how I made this one. Add a half cup or so of pre-cooked lentils to a shallow salad bowl (preferably the one you used to dress the asparagus, to take advantage of any leftover oil and lemon juice). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze over the rest of the lemon juice and add a tablespoon or two of extra virgin olive oil. You want this to be on the juicy side so there’s enough to dress the rest of the salad. Add shaved carrot, some quartered and finely sliced cucumber, a chopped tomato, a handful of chopped parsley, and 1-1/2 Romaine lettuce hearts, chopped. I also added a handful of freshly shelled peas (next time I’ll give them a quick blanch first, as I found them a bit too starchy and bitter, but it depends on the freshness of the peas – I should have used mine the day I bought them freshly picked). Finally, cut the grilled asparagus into pieces and add to the bowl. Toss the salad gently until well incorporated and everything is lightly dressed, adding more freshly ground pepper to suit your taste.
This was a hearty salad, with the lentils adding protein. The dressing was light and lemony, and all in all, it made for a lovely fresh and healthy lunch. That we ate it overlooking the lake from the patio at the top of the hill made it that much better!