Roasted Asparagus Salad with Fried Sage
2 pounds fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1½ tablespoons olive oil
1 cup vegetable or olive oil for frying
32 whole, medium-sized fresh sage leaves, patted dry
A block of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Zest of half a lemon
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. The asparagus. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut off the bottom ¼ of the asparagus spears, or at the point where they turn pale colored and tough. If your spears are medium to thick, peel the lower 2/3 of the trimmed spears with a sharp vegetable peeler. Thin spears do not need to be peeled. Put the asparagus on baking sheet, toss with the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Roast the spears until they are slightly limp when you hold them from the bottom, about 4 -8 minutes, depending on their thickness. They will continue to cook once you remove them from the oven. Cool.
2. The fried sage. Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan until it reaches 330 degrees. Drop in the sage leaves and turn them in the oil with a wire skimmer or slotted spoon. Fry for only 10 to 15 seconds, then remove them to a paper towel to drain. Do not let the leaves brown. Sprinkle the leaves with salt. They should crisp when they cool.
3. The cheese. Hold the block of Parmigiano in your hand and use a sharp vegetable peeler with light pressure to shave thin curls of the cheese into a bowl. You’ll want to shave off about 2 ounces, about a cup.
4. The dressing. Whisk together all the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
5. Assembling the salad. When ready to serve, toss the asparagus with the dressing in a large bowl. Arrange the dressed asparagus in a fan shape on a serving platter or individual plates. Sprinkle with the Parmigiano shavings and then with the fried sage leaves. If you happen to have a sage plant that’s flowering, sprinkle the salad with some of its blossoms.
Adapted from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld