shaved asparagus salad


“Cooking for others is a generous and civilized act, even if it’s just a simple pot of beans.”

— David Tanis


I read this quote from David Tanis this morning, and I have been thinking about it all day.

Before Lu went to her little preschool, we sat together at the table and ate yogurt with the honey we bought at the farmers’ market this weekend. She’s excited about honey since she learned how it’s made by reading Nikki McClure’s incredible new book, To Market, to Market. She wants to eat some at every meal. We’ve had to convince her that you don’t eat honey itself. Instead, we’ve been sweetening our yogurt in the mornings and tea in the evenings with a dollop of honey. Sugar is so boring in comparison. We three sat together in the morning light, eating and talking.

When Danny returned from taking her to school, we turned on the stove. Until yesterday, our stove and oven had been broken for 8 days without a repairman. We were gnashing our teeth. This past weekend, I visited a dear friend’s home and asked if I could cook dinner, just to feel my hands in the food again. I grated some carrots and sauteed them slowly in olive oil, cinnamon, a bit of butter, cayenne, and cumin. Since I hadn’t cooked in awhile, I stirred and watched as the carrots withered then shriveled into the spices. In the end, the carrots were crisp bits of deeply flavored sweetness. We threw them on top of the salad we made of homegrown lettuce and roasted chicken, with a spicy balsamic vinaigrette I shook together in a jar. (As I was roasting the asparagus and broccoli, I looked out the window to watch Lu help Tamiko pick lettuce from the garden, arranging each leaf in the colander just so.) We sat down to eat, my friends, their darling daughters, Lu, and I. C watched Lu gobble up her salad and asked for some too. It was the first time she had eaten vinaigrette. Relaxed. Nothing complicated.

This morning, with the stove finally working, Danny poured a glug of olive oil into the cast-iron pan, then cracked two eggs from brown shells into the hot oil. In another pan, he tossed big handfuls of fresh kale and chard leaves into the waiting hot oil and garlic, then flicked in some red chile flakes. He waited for them to wither, then stirred them as they started to shrivel. A shower of salt from on high, a twist of pepper, and we were ready. We sat down together, before we planned the last chapter of our new cookbook, to a pile of dark greens with eggs frizzled at the edges and a bit of jiggle in the yolk. Danny and I looked at each other across the table and smiled.

At lunch, a few bits of cheese, some slices of apple, and cinnamon rice cakes with sunflower butter.

Early this evening, Danny was outside in the driveway, washing the car. Lu danced around him, then climbed in the front seat, pretending to drive. I watched them both for a moment, with each other and in their own worlds. With the windows thrown open, I stood at the counter and shaved asparagus stalks. Yesterday, I read David Tanis’s new column in The New York Times about cooking in a city kitchen. I meant to start a pot of cannelini beans this morning to make his recipe, but I forgot. So I slivered the asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler and watched them tumble down into a crazy pile. Humming, I pulled out a jar of lemon-tahini dressing I made this week and drizzled a bit. Sunflower seeds. Shreds of aged white cheddar.

Lu ate her pasta and grabbed handfuls of this salad. Danny and I sat with her outside, asking to hear the stories of her day, laughing, planning tomorrow. Finally, it’s warm enough to be in short sleeves and sit on our porch. That table is my favorite one of the moment.

Right now, as I write, Danny is heating up some garlic in a hot pan. He’s going to throw in some chile powder, some cumin, corn, tomatoes, and the eggplant he roasted yesterday morning just for the heck of it. As soon as the rice is done cooking, and the chicken done roasting, he and I will sit down to our late dinner, the two of us together. I can guarantee you that at some point at the table we’ll talk about what we will cook tomorrow and the people with whom we’ll be happy to share our meals.



It’s hard to think of this as a recipe. It’s so simple. However, until I saw David Tanis’s column yesterday, I had never thought of shaving asparagus into a salad. He used a mandoline, which is a good way to go I am sure. But I grabbed the vegetable peeler because it was handy. Less refined. Faster.

I’m certain this salad would work with any number of vinaigrettes, with walnuts, without the cheese. As spring tilts into summer, I’ll be making this salad every few days until it has disappeared from the market. Until the jar of lemon-tahini dressing empties out, I’ll be using this again. I love lemon with asparagus. Next time, I’m adding lemon zest.

I haven’t even given you amounts here because you’ll figure out what you want. Feel free to play. Nothing complicated.

1 bunch asparagus with medium-size stalks
lemon tahini dressing
sunflower seeds
shredded aged white cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Wash and dry the asparagus stalks. With a vegetable peeler, peel slivers off the asparagus until the stalk won’t yield anymore. (Usually, as the stalks thin, they’ll break off and become irascible.) Repeat with all the stalks of asparagus.

Drizzle lemon tahini dressing over the top. Toss the salad with your hands, coating all the asparagus with the dressing. Add the sunflower seeds and cheese, in the amount that suits you best. Taste, then season with salt and pepper, if you need it.

Feeds 3.


29 comments on “shaved asparagus salad

  1. Michelle

    I make shaved asparagus, lemon, olive oil and Parmesan cheese. Simple and pleasant. Lemon zest – yes please! Tahini – even better. The imagination is very powerful!

  2. gaile

    OO this sounds divine. Would love to hear about your lemon tahini dressing. Do you use miso?

    1. shauna

      oops! I forgot to link to our recipe. it’s there now. we don’t use miso usually, although I have played with it a bit. I like it. However, I find I really like the lemon taste to sing through .

  3. Wendy

    I love asparagus (and the idea of combining it with a tahini dressing!), love your writing and love your blog, but feel the need to chime in that honey can be just for eating “itself” too! I’m the daughter of a beekeeper who was brought up on finger-tip-fulls of the sweet goodness, and to this day my father spreads it (in one form or another) on his toast nearly every morning. Honey is of course wonderful in tea or yogurt as you describe, but eating it alone allows for the sometimes subtle but always fantastic range of its flavors to be noticed!
    Thanks for the wonderful blog (from a full-gluten eater)!

    1. shauna

      Oh, I agree! But right now if we told Lucy that, she’d eat nothing but honey! When she’s a little older, we’ll let her be surprised.

  4. Molly

    I’m thinking about making the sauteed carrot dish, and then mixing it with that farmer’s market yogurt and honey. Yes, I think that will do quite nicely.

  5. Suze

    I never thought of doing fresh kale and eggs for breakfast. That sounds good. I love reading the vignettes of your lives together. Lovely. Thanks for sharing with us.

  6. Lisa {With Style and Grace}

    Shauna – your posts beam with such beauty and grace, warms my heart every time. I love cooking for others and the quote you shared is just perfect. Plus the recipe, fabulous – can’t wait to try it! Have a lovely weekend my dear ~ xx

  7. alison

    Your writing is exquisite. I felt as if I were in the kitchen, on the front porch and sitting at your dinner table. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your days.

  8. Tamiko

    We loved having you with us! and I was SO happy to see you make yourself at home in the kitchen. Again, soon. Looking forward to more meals, more and less complicated, in the years to come. XO

  9. Archer

    I am totally making this recipe, dressing and all! I’ll have to sub in sesame seeds for the tahini in the dressing though. I have a Vita-mix, so I stopped buying tahini. Sesame seeds are way cheaper. I can’t wait to try it! Thank you for sharing this. I’ve really been craving something new that was light and refreshing. And it looks so pretty, too!

  10. Julienne

    Thanks for the wonderful salad ideas! I live in the pacific northwest as well and absolutely love my summer salads and pasta’s piled high with fresh local produce while the season lasts! I also really love the article you included by David Tanis. Thank you so much for sharing!

  11. Crystal Gorwitz

    I just finished eating my first shaved asparagus salad! Delicious! I have been reading your posts every day and today I told myself I was breaking free of the boring food I have been eating since being diagnosed and I can’t Put into words how excited I feel! My taste buds are having a party! I went to the farmers market this morning and bought a bunch of asparagus and also purchased a mix for cheddar garlic biscuits. I am savoring every bite! No more boring food for me!

  12. Lucy

    gorgeous. could easily lose myself in your writing about the act – indeed, the joy – of cooking.

    thanks for the link to tanis’ column, too, shauna. i often take that first book of his to bed…

  13. Marissa

    Yum!! This is so much easier to envision because I am in Seattle and just this morning oooed and aaahed at fresh asparagus at the Ballard farmer’s market. 🙂 Also went a little crazy at The Flying Apron earlier in the day (bought the cookbook too). Thank you for your beautiful writing and for making my trip to Seattle a gluten free paradise. I’ll be sure to wave hello to Vashon Island when we go up the needle tomorrow. 🙂 Such a blessing to have your blog.

  14. Lorena I.

    Mmmmmmm yum!! I was looking for new salad recipes and yours looks sooo good….I have tons of walnuts from our trees, I surely try this with them.
    Love your blog! thank you!

  15. Julia Stuble

    I love reading posts like these… the simplicity, the pleasure of it all. Thanks for sharing. I cannot wait for your new cookbook especially if it’s filled with meals like these and your gum-free whole grain baked goods. I’m grateful to have your blog for inspiration until the book comes out!

  16. Brooke @ Food Woolf

    I love it when you let us peek over your shoulder like this. Getting to stand at the window with you–peering down on the driveway and watching Lu and Dan play by the car, or watching the peeled carrots curl–is a welcomed break from my own life and experiences. Your pacing is lovely. Gentle. Good.

    Thank you for letting us in. Love you.

  17. Foodtopii

    I’ve never considered shaving asparagus. It’s so simple but ingenious! It must soak up the sauce that much better. I love the touch of sunflower seeds too. Have you tried using other seeds or nuts for added texture as well?

  18. glutenfreeforgood

    My first experience with shaved asparagus was on a piece of gf bread with some cheese and herb infused sliced black olives – toasted, bruschetta style. It was wonderful and I’ve been a fan of shaved asparagus ever since. It also works on sandwiches as well as gf pasta salads. Good stuff, indeed. I never would have thought of it if I hadn’t had it in a restaurant in Denver.

    Beautiful writing, as always! Hope all is well. =)

  19. Shar

    That would be really good with dried cherries too! Quite the salad, looks simple and simply yummy! Those are the kind of fixin’s I like

  20. The Healthy Apple

    Love the quote; short n’ sweet…and such a simple and perfect summer recipe. Love it, Shauna…as always, a fabulously delicious dish.
    Hope you are enjoying your summer!

  21. Ann from Montana

    Last night, I needed something “green” to go with my pan roasted salmon…I remembered this and I had some thick asparagus. Veg Peeler worked fine! I was making only enough for me so used 3 thick stalks. I tossed with a bit of quinoa, cashews and a dressing of tahini, soy & lemon. Wonderful! Lots of ways to go with this – Thank you!! Also gets me thinking of other veg I might shave – I’m not a huge fan of lettuce salads.

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