Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Asparagus and Hazelnut Salad

After consuming more bacon in one night than I have in the past decade, it was time to detox zee taste buds. 

I've been frequenting The Purple Pig on Michigan Ave in Chicago and they have this salad TO DIE FOR.  This is my version of it.  Crispy asparagus and radicchio, tossed with a bright lemony vinaigrette and crunchy hazelnuts.  

Here are the ingredients.  Since this is a salad, the portions are approximate.  Don't stress.  It'll come out perfect no matter what. 

1 Bunch of Fresh Asparagus
1 Small Head of Radicchio 
1/8 Cup of Chopped Hazelnuts 
1/8 of Freshly, Finely Grated Pecorino Ramano 
1/2 Cup of Really Good Olive Oil 
Juice of Half a Lemon
1 Teaspoon of Honey 
1 Tablespoon of Finely Chopped Shallots
1-2 Teaspoons of Dijon Mustard 
Kosher or Sea Salt

This would be much easier if I had a mandolin, but I don't.  No biggy, though.  If you don't either, just cut the asparagus spears down the center, and then diagonally like this: 
The key to a good salad is making sure everything is chopped similarly and around the same size.  I cut the radicchio down the center and then made small slivers. 

Mmmmm shallots.  They are like a mild delicious onion.  I think this is the key to any good vinaigrette.  Is it mandatory?  No.  But it's worth the time to chop up these tiny pieces to make everything extra special.

I didn't measure the dressing ingredients at all.  I can't be bothered.  Here is my general method to making dressing.  My ratio of olive oil to acid (vinegar, lemon juice, whatever) is about three to one.  So for every three tablespoons of olive oil, I put in roughly a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.  Cool?  Cool.  I then throw in some shallots, a squirt of dijon mustard, and a squeeze of honey to round everything out.  Don't forget to season your dressing with some sea or kosher salt!  Makes all the difference in the world.  Trust.

Whisk until everything emulsifies and comes together.  Yum. I could drink this. 

I was starving and in a rush, but next time I'm going to toast my hazelnuts.  This time, I just chopped up some regular ol' whole ones.

Grate some from pecorino romano or parm or whatever cheese you like.  It's important that you grate it FRESH and FINE.  You want the cheese to become part of the dressing.

I dressed the salad with the vinaigrette first to taste for seasoning.   I like to build on flavors so it's easier if you add a little of this, taste, and a little of that, and taste again. 

Oh boy.

Oh snap.

Toss everything together and get ready for some bliss.


I love piling it up high on a nice white plate to make the colors pop.

If you want the asparagus crisp, eat it right away.  Otherwise, let it sit in the vinaigrette for about 20 minutes before adding the cheese and nuts.  That way the asparagus will marinate and soften up a bit.  I have the patience of a 2 year old, so there was no waiting for this girl. 


Yummy yummy yum yums.  Charlie, who hates asparagus, especially raw asparagus, MOWED this.  It's a delicious blend of colors, textures, and flavors.  The recipe for a perfect salad.  Enjoy and stay hungry! 


  1. I didn't even know you could eat asparagus raw! I have to try this, it looks delicious.

  2. This looks delicious and I love asparagus

  3. Can't wait to try this. I am going to take it to Thanksgiving dinner. I've been looking for a recipe since I had this at the Purple Pig over the summer!!


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