There are two vegetables that I can genuinely say I look forward to each spring and summer: asparagus and sweet corn. It’s still too early for good sweet corn-at least it is here in New England anyway, but the asparagus I have found at the supermarket the last few weeks have been divine.
For years I would not eat asparagus. I was haunted by memories of the canned variety I was served -usually at holidays- their salty limpness was, well, nasty. It was not until being served asparagus in a restaurant that I realized what the real texture was supposed to be. My preference is tender crisp. I will lightly grill, quickly blanch or quickly roast them; but grilled is by far my favorite way to eat asparagus.
Tomorrow my daughter’s science class will be releasing salmon that they have raised from eggs, into a local tributary of the Connecticut River. I suppose it’s a little twisted, but that is what inspired me to make a salmon salad for dinner tonight. (That and I happen to think that asparagus and salmon go very well together.) Only about 10-15 percent of the salmon that they will be releasing is expected to actually survive, swim to the Atlantic Ocean and then return to Connecticut to spawn. Then I suppose they will ultimately be caught and served for dinner-oh that is twisted.
Grilled Asparagus and Wild Salmon Salad with Spiced Honey Vinaigrette
Spiced Honey Vinaigrette:
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon red pepper flavored extra virgin olive oil*
2 tablespoon lime juice
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallot
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt, such as grey salt or sea salt
Oil to brush the grill
2 teaspoons red pepper flavored extra virgin olive oil*
20 asparagus spears
Salt and pepper to taste
4 (8 ounce) Wild Salmon fillets
8 cups baby spinach
1 cup diced grape tomatoes
*you may substitute regular extra virgin olive oil for the flavored oil
Preheat a grill to medium high heat.
For the Spiced Honey Vinaigrette, in a medium sized bowl rapidly whisk together the honey, red pepper flavored oil, lime juice, cayenne pepper, ancho chili powder and the shallot. Stir in the salt then set the vinaigrette aside.
Drizzle the 2 teaspoons of oil over the asparagus spears. Place the spears directly on the grill rack and cook, turning once or twice, until tender crisp-about 3-4 minutes. Remove the spears from the grill, slice about 2 inches off the ends of each spear. Sprinkle the asparagus tips lightly with salt and pepper. (You can save the ends to make stock if you care to).
Lightly brush the grill rack with oil. Place the salmon directly on the grill rack skin side down, close the grill and cook for 6 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the fish over and grill for an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from the grill and season to taste with the salt and pepper.
To assemble the salads, divide the spinach between four serving plates mounding it in the center of each. Arrange the grilled asparagus spears, tips up, around the spinach. Divide the tomatoes between each salad.
Lean the salmon to the side of the spinach. Drizzle each salad and salmon portion with the vinaigrette. Add additional salt if desired and serve immediately.