Fresh Asparagus Salad with Shaved Parmesan Cheese and Italian Dressing

4  servings

  • 1 pound fresh asparagus spears (see note)
  • Water as needed
  • About 1½ cups crisp mixed greens
  • Commercial bottled Italian dressing or zesty Italian dressing or reduced-fat Italian dressing as desired
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper to taste (optional)
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese as desired for garnish
  • Toasted pine nuts as desired for garnish
  •  Sprigs of watercress, most stems removed, as desired for garnish (optional)

Choose slender, tender, crisp asparagus spears.  Rinse thoroughly to remove any sand or dirt.  Remove the woody end of each spear at the point where the spear easily snaps or breaks.  Very tender, young asparagus will not have to be trimmed.

In a deep large heavy saucepan, cook asparagus, uncovered, in salted boiling water to cover for 3 to 4 minutes after water returns to a boil or until asparagus are tender but crisp and firm.  Or, arrange asparagus spears in an 8 x 8 x 2-inch glass or heat-proof pottery baking dish; add water to just cover asparagus.  Loosely cover with plastic wrap, allowing for steam venting; microwave at HIGH power for 4 minutes.  Check doneness of asparagus; continue to microwave in 30 second increments until asparagus are crisp tender.  Drain thoroughly.  Rinse asparagus in very cold water; dry thoroughly, and set aside.  May chill in refrigerator, if desired.

Evenly divide mixed greens onto four salad plates.  Arrange asparagus spears, about 8 to 10 per serving, over greens on salad plates.  Drizzle a small amount of dressing over each; may season each with salt and freshly ground pepper, if desired.  Garnish each with shaved Parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of pine nuts, and a sprig of watercress, if desired.

Note: May use 2 (9 to 10-ounce) packages frozen asparagus; cook according to package directions.  Do not use canned asparagus.

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