I know that a lot of people think salad is boring and ho-hum. But if a salad is good, then it's hard to beat. This salad? It's GOOD.
To be honest, when I first ran across the recipe, it didn't jump out at me. I have asparagus and goat cheese in salad quite often, so it was nothing new there. But when I saw that it was created by one of my favorite Atlanta chefs, and that it used a cool technique to coax more flavor out of the citrus, I was intrigued.
Lemon and Orange rinds are microwaved in a cup of water, then drained and added to the dressing. Doing this tames the bitterness of the rind, while also leaving you with a bright yet still mellow flavor. The little bits of orange rind was one of my favorite parts of the salad.
The salad is finished off with goat cheese, toasted pecans, and a wine-spiked citrus dressing. And since you just opened a bottle of white for the dressing, you might as well have a glass with dinner, am I right?
I know the ingredient list is long, and there are a lot of directions, but this is really quick and easy. Less than 30 minutes, even. And I'd venture to guess that you already have most of these ingredients on hand.
I kept it really light when we had this, simply serving it with some fresh bread. Asparagus season is fast and fleeting, so make this special salad before it's too late!
Skillet Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese
barely adapted from Cooking Light, May 2014
- 6 tsp olive oil, divided
- freshly ground black pepper
- kosher salt
- 1 1/2 lbs asparagus, woody ends snapped off (about 30 spears)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tsp julienne-cut orange rind*
- 1 tsp julienne-cut lemon rind*
- 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 Tbs dry white wine
- 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 4 cups mixed baby salad greens
- 2 oz goat cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 Tbs chopped pecans, toasted
- 1 Tbs fresh basil leaves, chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh parsley leaves, chopped
- 1 Tbs fresh mint leaves, chopped
Combine 1 teaspoon of the olive oil, 1/4 tsp of pepper, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl with the asparagus. Toss to coat. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, and add about one-third of the asparagus. Cook until lightly charred and crisp-tender, about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the pan and set aside, then repeat with the remaining asparagus.
Place 1 cup of water in a glass liquid measuring cup. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, or until the water is just beginning to boil. Add the orange rinds, and let stand for 20 seconds. Drain the water and reserve the rind. Repeat with the lemon rind, and set aside.
Combine the orange juice, rind, and sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced to about 3 tablespoons (this will take about 5 minutes).
Meanwhile, in a small bowl or jar, combine the wine, lemon juice, mustard, 1/8 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, and the lemon rind. Slowly whisk in 5 teaspoons of the oil, then stir in the orange juice mixture.
Toss the salad greens with all but 4 tablespoons of the dressing, then divide among plates. Top the greens with the asparagus, crumbled goat cheese, and pecans. Sprinkle the fresh herbs over the top, then season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the remaining dressing over each salad, and serve.
*To julienne the citrus rind, I used a vegetable peeler to peel off a strip of zest + rind. Then I simply sliced it into thin strips.