Virginia Willis Blog

Fresh, Easy Asparagus Lemon Salad

Asparagus Lemon Salad on

“Hadley Grass”

Funny how things work. I never really cared for asparagus, and now that I’m in prime asparagus country, where it’s known as “Hadley Grass” in Western Massachusetts, I can’t get enough of it. We’re having it every night for supper and eating the leftovers for breakfast and lunch. Coming to love asparagus makes me realize sometimes things just need a fresh look.

I’ve also recently made changes with my website,  and worked up a whole new design.  This is the first post of my blog hosted on I’ve got more changes coming in the next few weeks and I’ll be able to categorize the recipes. It will make my blog a lot more user friendly. It’s great to get a fresh look at things, to shake things up. There’s no doubt, change can be challenging, but it’s good to step out of the box.

Asparagus Lemon Salad on

Fresh Asparagus is Best

Most often asparagus is simmered in water, or perhaps grilled or broiled. This salad is completely raw, which is something really fresh and different. The lemon gives the salad real punch, the pine nuts a nice fatty richness, and the parmesan rounds it all out with a lovely sharp mouthful of umami. There’s no fancy equipment needed, just the swift use of an old-fashioned sharp vegetable peeler. It’s pretty simple stuff. Good ingredients, just enough done to them to maximize flavor without going overboard. It’s a new perspective on things. I hope you enjoy and thanks for reading.

Bon Appétit Y’all!
Virginia Willis

PS Please also keep up with my other column, Down-Home Comfort on

Raw Asparagus and Lemon Salad

Yield: Serves 2 to 4

Raw Asparagus and Lemon Salad


Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 small shallot, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon pine nuts, toasted
1 pound asparagus spears, tough bottoms removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup loosely packed shaved Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon coarsely chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves
Coarse kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Combine the lemon zest, lemon juice, shallot, mustard, and salt and pepper in a bowl. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a medium pan over medium heat, stirring often, until golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove to a small bowl to cool.
  2. Using a vegetable peeler, thinly slice the asparagus lengthwise into strips and place in a large bowl. (If you have any trouble peeling the asparagus, place the spear on the flat wooden handle of a spatula. This will lift it high enough to allow the peeler to move freely.)
  3. Whisk the olive oil into the lemon-vinegar mixture in a thin and steady stream. Taste and season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  4. Add the reserved pine nuts, dressing, half of the Parmesan, and the parsley to the asparagus and toss to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving.

Please be nice. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without permission is prohibited. Feel free to excerpt and link, just give credit where credit is due and send folks to my website, Thanks so much.

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Copyright © 2014 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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