Instead of roasting the asparagus, this recipe from America’s Test Kitchen takes a much different approach creating a fresh, vibrant salad with raw asparagus. Slicing the spears thin is key to keeping them crunchy, not woody. An herb-based dressing compliments the freshness of the asparagus and the finishing touches include spicy radishes, salty Pecorino Romano, and crunchy croutons.
Before You Begin
Parmesan can be substituted for the Pecorino Romano. Grate the cheese for the pesto with a rasp-style grater or use the small holes of a box grater; shave the cheese for the salad with a vegetable peeler. For easier slicing, select large asparagus spears, about ½ inch thick.
- FOR THE CROUTONS: Heat butter and oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium heat until butter is melted. Add bread cubes and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer croutons to a paper towel-lined plate. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- FOR THE PESTO: Process mint, basil, Pecorino, lemon zest and juice, garlic, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor until finely chopped, about 20 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer to a large bowl. Stir in oil until combined and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- FOR THE ASPARAGUS SALAD: Cut asparagus tips from stalks into 3/4-inch-long pieces. Slice asparagus stalks 1/8 inch thick on the bias into approximately 2-inch lengths. Add asparagus tips and stalks, radishes, and Pecorino to pesto and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer salad to platter and top with croutons. Serve.