Asparagus, Orange and Walnut Salad

Asparagus Orange and Walnut Salad

Asparagus, Orange and Walnut Salad

This is a wonderful Spring Salad that capitalises on that brief period in time when asparagus is plentiful and sweet.  Pairing asparagus with orange and walnuts balances the slightly bitter, dense flavour of the asparagus with the warm flavour of walnut and the zesty tang of orange.  This salad goes especially well with fish and is surprisingly filling.

250 grams baby asparagus
150 grams fresh green beans
2 oranges, 1 segmented, 1 juiced and zested
100 grams walnuts, toasted
1 teaspoon Nigella seeds
1 teaspoon seeded mustard
2 tablespoons chives
Generous pinch of salt
½ a garlic clove – just rubbed around the dressing bowl, not added
3 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon butter
2 Spanish onions
1 cucumber, de-seeded and sliced into batons
Generous bunch of salad greens – rocket, baby spinach, mignonette lettuce, red russet lettuce
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons walnut oil (or if you are not able to get walnut oil, very good olive oil)
Cracked black pepperAsparagus Orange and Walnut Salad

For the dressing:
Add the juice of an orange to a small bowl, add the mustard, chopped chives, walnut oil, red wine vinegar and salt.
Whisk the dressing together well, forming a thickened, golden mixture.
Set the dressing aside while the rest of the salad is assembled.

To cook the asparagus and beans:  Add the zest of an orange, butter, a bay leaf, a little extra salt and cracked black pepper to about ½ a cup of water in a saucepan.  Melt the butter and whisk together with the water.   Increase the heat and allow the liquid to reduce a little before adding the beans and asparagus to the pan.  Fold the asparagus and beans through the water mixture, cook very briefly, keeping the colour and crunch of the greens.  Immediately remove the greens from the water and plunge into iced water.  Stand the asparagus in a tall sided jar or bowl, allowing the water to drain off and the stalks to cool.

On a long platter or plate, add the lettuce leaves, parsley and batons of cucumber.  Add the segmented orange and the finely sliced Spanish onions.  Arrange the asparagus and beans evenly over the lettuce and lastly add the well toasted walnuts.  Spoon over the dressing and a few extra Nigella seeds.
Serve with fish or chicken, or just as it is!