Although asparagus is available year-round, I prefer spring stalks. I stir-fry them, grill them and generally enjoy the season while it lasts.
I use that asparagus to make this warm salad. I blanch (pre-cook) the asparagus and then finish it on the grill along with chicken cutlets I’ve marinated in a lemon-herb dressing. Everything’s cut into bite-size pieces and finished with a little more of the dressing, to create a light and delicious spring meal.
- 1 pound asparagus, woody bottom part of the stems snapped off
- Freshly squeezed juice and finely grated zest of 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup juice and 2 or 3 teaspoons zest)
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 pound thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets
Fill a shallow, straight-sided wide pan with lightly salted water; bring to a boil over high heat. Add the asparagus and cook for 3 to 6 minutes, until the stalks are slightly tender. Transfer to a plate or platter to cool.
Whisk together the lemon juice and zest, vinegar, mustard, parsley, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in 4 tablespoons of the oil to form an emulsified dressing.
Pour half of the dressing (a generous 1/4 cup) into a shallow pan, then place the cutlets on the dressing. Turn them over to coat evenly and let them sit for 20 minutes at room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the grill for direct heat. If using a gas grill, preheat to medium-high (450 degrees). If using a charcoal grill, light the charcoal or wood briquettes; when the briquettes are ready, distribute them evenly under the cooking area. For a medium-hot fire, you should be able to hold your hand about 6 inches above the coals for 4 or 5 seconds. Lightly coat a grill rack with oil and place it on the grill.
Use the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil to lightly coat the asparagus.
Place the asparagus on the grill; cover and cook for 2 minutes. Uncover and turn the asparagus with tongs. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until the stalks have even grill marks but have not burned. Transfer to a plate.
Arrange the chicken cutlets on the grill; discard the dressing that was used as a marinade. Cover and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken has good grill marks and no longer looks raw; turn the cutlets over and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. If the cutlets are less than a half-inch thick, you might need to shorten their grill time.
Transfer the chicken to a platter and let it rest for 10 minutes, then cut into strips 1/4- to 1/2-inch wide.
Cut the asparagus into 1 1/2-inch pieces and transfer to a large bowl. Add the chicken strips and the remaining dressing; toss to coat evenly. Serve warm or at room temperature.
From Nourish columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.