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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat-Gazette file photo/STATON BREIDENTHAL Asparagus with lemon

Don't you love asparagus?

Asparagus that's not hand-harvested typically has a tougher end. And that tougher end can turn out stringy or woody when cooked. To check its tender point, those that aren't hand-harvested, you bend the stalk near the bottom and it will break naturally at its most tender point. If you don't want to do the bend and snap method, you can peel off several layers from the bottom to reach the tender center.

Here are my favorite ways to flavor fresh asparagus.

■ Drizzle with olive oil and place on the grill over medium heat. Make sure they are placed the opposite way the grates run so they don't fall through. Remove from the grill, drizzle with a bit more oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

■ Cook 1 bunch of asparagus as desired. Whisk together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard. Slowly whisk in 3/4 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Drizzle over asparagus.

■ Place on a sided sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil and broil about 6 to 7 minutes. Remove to a serving platter, sprinkle with shredded or shaved Parmesan cheese and generous grinding of black pepper.

■ Drizzle cooked asparagus with a fresh squeeze of lemon juice and a sprinkle of zest and serve it cold as crudites.

Today's recipe pairs asparagus with peas and crispy prosciutto. No prosciutto? No problem. Use cooked and crumbled bacon or diced and cooked pancetta.

You can make the vinaigrette a few days in advance and fry the prosciutto several hours in advance. This salad is terrific as a starter to accompany broiled or baked fish or grilled chicken.

Asparagus Salad With Peas and Crisp Prosciutto

For vinaigrette:

2 teaspoons minced or pressed garlic

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons orange juice

2 tablespoons chopped chives

5 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Pinch sugar, or to taste

For salad:

1 ½ pounds asparagus

1 cup shelled fresh English peas or good-quality frozen peas

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 thin slices prosciutto, cut into slivers

6 cups mixed butter lettuces and arugula

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients. Set aside.

Peel and trim asparagus stems if needed. Bring a large skillet of salted water to a boil. Add the asparagus and boil for 2 to 4 minutes, or until crisp tender. Add the peas during the last minute of cooking. Do not overcook. Transfer to a bowl and run cold water over the asparagus and peas to stop the cooking.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the prosciutto and saute until crisp, about 1 minute. Remove to paper towels to drain.

Arrange lettuce and arugula on plates. Top with asparagus and peas. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

Makes 6 servings.

Adapted from Food & Drink magazine, spring 2009 issue.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 237 calories 9 g protein, 19 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 10 mg cholesterol, 506 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

Food on 05/29/2019

Print Headline: Asparagus, pea salad with crispy prosciutto

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