Simple dishes of the best ingredients usually make the tastiest meals. This basic salad recipe underscores that point. The sweetness of asparagus in the early spring can be fully appreciated in this healthful and delicious raw dish. It takes a little bit of time to shave the asparagus, but after that, this recipe comes together quickly. It can be made ahead of time for dinners or picnic lunches. I served this with a couple pieces of toasted baguette spread with avocado, a dash of salt and sprinkle of Parmesan. This recipe is adapted from Food52.

Shaved asparagus

Prep time: 30 minutes 

Total time: 60 minutes (including chilling the asparagus)

Yields: 4-6 servings

Shaved Raw Asparagus with Lemon Dressing


  • 1 large bunch asparagus, washed and tough ends removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan cheese (omit this for a vegan version of this salad)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon pine nuts (or cashews, or toasted slivered almonds, or ... whatever you'd like, really.)
Cooking directions
  1. Cut tips off asparagus (But keep them! They're perfect to add to soups, other salads, or to steam and eat on their own.) With a potato peeler, shave the asparagus spears. Keep turning and shaving until you've gotten right down to the core and you can't shave any more! Try to use as much of the asparagus as possible, but you'll still have bits of core and ends left over. You can add these to the tips you saved.
  2. Place the shavings in bowl with the olive oil, lemon juice and salt. Toss the ingredients together so the shavings are coated with the liquid ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour and up to 2 hours. This will give the lemon juice and salt time to tenderize the asparagus.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, lightly toast the nuts you'll use to top the salad.
  4. Remove the asparagus from the fridge and toss in the shaved Parmesan (or not, if you're going the vegan route). Taste and add salt and pepper as needed. Place a pile of the salad on a small plate and top with the toasted nuts.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.